Review: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

RogueSebastian Rudd is a criminal defence attorney who takes on cases other lawyers avoid. He doesn’t maintain a traditional office; he works from the back of a car (not a Lincoln, thank goodness; Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller might file a lawsuit). He doesn’t belong to a law firm; he’s a lone gunman, an essential cog in the justice system that stipulates innocence until proven guilty.

Rudd is a fascinating protagonist; not necessarily likable, but someone readers will respect and admire for his tenacity, unorthodox methods, and legal expertise. He admits to being a terrible father, and has also proved himself an abysmal husband (now ex); and representing criminals means he’s never far away from society’s underbelly, who are prone to holding grudges; and he’s blacklisted by the nebulous “City’s” police department. Although he’s happy to bend the rules, he never breaks them; he will use every bit of legal trickery he can muster, but is never outright dishonest.

Rogue Lawyer opens with Rudd defending a client who appears to be guilty, but is in fact not. The evidence is circumstantial at best, if not entirely fiction. It’s the perfect introduction to Rudd; a case where he is actually defending an innocent man. It immediately gives him credence and conjures readers’ respect. Then the novel flits between various other cases – some very personal, others showcasing the reality of his profession; the majority of his clients are guilty, many of heinous crimes. These are not nice people, and by interacting with them, Rudd is welcoming evil into his life.

The novel has an episodic design; it is split into several chunks, which feel like episodes in a season of a television drama. There is a unity to these – the novel’s climactic scenes pull together various threads into a powerful and affective conclusion – just like any finale of a TV series should do. But it is initially jarring, suggesting perhaps that Rogue Lawyer was initially conceived as a series of short stories to be read at intervals rather than in one sitting.

John Grisham flexes different muscles in Rogue Lawyer. It is packed with the legal jargon and supreme storytelling long-time readers expect; but the tension is notched to an even higher level, and his prose is starker than ever. Rogue Lawyer is a brilliantly stripped down legal thriller packed with tension and velocity.

ISBN: 9781473627321
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publish Date: 20-Oct-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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