I recently finished this 1993 publication exactly after twenty years. A book from the pre I-Phone times – A review does not require these statistics – year of publication, era. A thriller that appeals to people’s senses now – when holding a reader’s attention span beyond 400 words blogs is a huge challenge – is nothing short of a master piece.

This review is not from a reader’s perspective as it must have been done to death in the past two decades. There is a lot to learn from this book for someone who is attempting to write thrillers for the first time. I am not sure how many, in the first place, would risk building a plot around a minor as the protagonist – at least for a suspense thriller. Every paragraph, each little remark contributes either to the story or characterization and keeps the reader glued.

The plot begins with an eleven year old Mark Sway and his younger brother sharing a cigarette in the outskirts of Memphis while they happened to meet a lawyer keen to commit to suicide, who while rambling absolutely drunk, lets out an explosive and lethal secret relating to the much sought after US Senator’s body and this piece of information turns Mark’s life overnight.

Mark is now clearly caught between a brother who, having witnessed the lawyer’s assault on Mark in the woods and having heard a gunshot went to a serious post trauma stress to the extent of being comatose in the hospital, a mother who had a dirty divorce and struggling to keep up her job, a legal system, the FBI and Mafia desperate to silence Mark to cover up the crime. His only ally in his current chaotic life is a 52 years old woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer only for four years and was hired by Mark for just a dollar – who was willing to take every chance possible that could win her client his freedom and innocence.

Typical of Grisham and absolutely true to his writings, while the book can be easily labeled a legal thriller, the human element of this book cannot be ignored – The unusual but interesting attorney-client relationship, a kid wise beyond his years, his frequent references to TV serials and movies to make a point, adds a different flavor altogether. This is probably yet another take away for aspiring Suspense writers how to merge the two – and not over do any.

A wonderful and timeless read! The only reason not to give this a 5 star is because the end was slightly predictable. Anything else, any other climax would appear forced perhaps, somehow Grisham here is rated by his own standards, and I expect more.

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