by John Grisham
On the right side of the law. Sort of.
Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidante, and golf caddy. He lives alone in a small but extremely safe penthouse apartment, and his primary piece of furniture is a vintage pool table. He drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun.
Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumoured to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house. Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behaviour.
Sebastian Rudd is one of John Grisham’s most colourful, outrageous, and vividly drawn characters yet. Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer showcases the master of the legal thriller at his very best.
This book is not a story; it’s a conglomeration of short stories, likely each of which was at some point being considered for development into a full-fledged book. But it didn’t take, it didn’t happen.
Each short story is an afternoon of writing practice for Grisham, like a musician playing scales or doing some riffs as practice and skills development. This book is that for Grisham. Each story grabs, entertains, and amuses but none satisfies the dedicated Grisham fan. We want the full, all-out Grisham, not his practice sketches. We want the full-blown Grisham, not the teasing dabbles where he jots down notations of what he is thinking.
Grisham is a superb writer and even in short story mode, he far outclasses what most other writers work at producing. He is that good. However, our taste for short stories is non-existent. Hence, we passed on this book after the midway point.
If you like the flexibility of time which short stories afford any reader, and you like Grisham’s style of writing legal themes, this is a book for you. It will entertain you in nice, manageable short bursts. But to my liking.