09/23/2013 09:22 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

52 Books in 52 Weeks, Week 38: Making a Racket

Week 38's read for 52 books in 52 weeks was John Grisham's The Racketeer. (And yeah, maybe I could've come up with a better title for this post, but I've read 38 books in 38 weeks. I's tired.)

According to Grisham's bio on Goodreads, he's written a book a year since his first was published in 1988 (he must be really tired), which, if my math is right, and accounting for the fact that The Racketeer was first published last year, would make this Grisham's 21st novel. (I could've looked this information up on the internets, but as I mentioned, I's tired. Also, accuracy is not really essential in this instance.)

Unlike some other authors who've sold 225 million copies of their books that I've reviewed here this year (It's a small club), I had not only heard of Grisham but had read many of his novels before. (In fact, ever since I got my book deal, I have constantly been asked if I wrote books "like John Grisham?" because, I presume, I too practice law, like Grisham did back in the day. Alas, I have not found a way to make my day job interesting enough to write about without breaching client confidentiality. Sigh.)

Andbutso, The Racketeer: a federal judge is found dead (only the fifth such death in the history of the U.S.) and it's a real puzzle. That is until federal racketeering inmate, Malcolm Bannister, comes forward. He's got the answer, he just wants out of prison in exchange for the information. And so begins the who-done-it-no-not-that-guy-oh-really-but-wait ... premise of the book.

My favorite Grisham novel is The Partner, and there was much about this book that reminded me of that story. Like most Grisham novels, it contains interesting details about the legal and penal system, particularly from a small town (as opposed to big City) perspective. It is a quick read, and will likely keep you guessing as it goes along. That being said, I didn't find Bannister a particularly believable protagonist. Something about his voice seemed off -- like he wasn't quite smart enough to be pulling off what he does. I never really got a sense of what made Bannister tick - other than his passion to get out of jail (and stay out) at all costs, which is too common to make a compelling defining characteristic, in my humble opinion. So, while I enjoyed this book, I'd still recommend that you start with The Partner if you are looking for a way in to the oeuvre of John Grisham.

And if you're still reading along, Week 39's read will be John Green's Looking for Alaska. Yes, it's the second John Green book I've picked this year. Why? Because he's awesome.

Read on.