Much like its predecessor “Camino Island,” John Grisham’s latest is a lightweight thriller, efficiently paced and plotted, rendered with all the virtuosity of an experienced genre practitioner. It is Grisham at his most pulpy.
Camino Island is a resort island in Florida inhabited by some of America’s most popular writers, all coalesced into a literary cabal by local bookshop owner Bruce Kable. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Leo, who leaves a trail of destruction in his wake, one of Bruce’s author pals turns up dead — actually, murdered.
Nelson Kerr, a former trial lawyer-turned-whistle-blower-turned-bestselling-thriller-writer, had plenty of enemies, but distracted by the hurricane clean-up (and addled by their own ineptness) the local cops are unable to find a suspect. So it’s up to Bruce and his writers to solve Kerr’s murder, which enmeshes them in a plot involving his unpublished manuscript, Medicare fraud, an unapproved Chinese drug, and nursing home abuse — not to mention professional hired assassins.
“Camino Winds” unravels leisurely, but assuredly. This is not a white-knuckle thrill-ride, but a methodical procedural. Various characters flit in and out of Grisham’s spotlight as the investigation takes on a larger scope. His handling of its many pieces is impressive, but the discerning reader might take issue with his workmanlike approach.
Format: Paperback / softback
Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton
Publish Date: 28-Apr-2020
John Grisham forgoes his trademark courtroom drama for a multi-layered caper story, which isn’t much of a thriller or mystery, but is entertaining nonetheless. His latest is a lightweight page-turner, hardly vintage, but ensures a few hours of escapism.
Camino Island opens with a heist strangely lacking in suspense, but high in stakes. The prize? The five manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels, valued at $25 million, under lock-and-key in a high-security vault located deep beneath Princeton University. But there’s no such thing as the perfect crime, and this gang of five made mistakes, which result in a couple of arrests. Despite pressure from the FBI’s Rare Asset Recovery unit, the remaining thieves vanish without a trace, and for a time, their investigation stalls, until a man on their watch list – an infamous bookseller on Camino Island named Bruce Kable – comes to their attention. More specifically, his collection of rare manuscripts. Determined to employ a mole to get close to Kable and assess his possible criminality, Mercer Mann, a struggling writer burdened by debts – and coincidentally, a former frequent-traveller to Camino Island – is somewhat reluctantly pulled into the fold.
Grisham’s unravelling of this cat-and-mouse tale is rather perfunctory, if not overwhelmingly sedate. Camino Island is never boring; it just never threatens to get your pulse pounding. The manner in which Grisham ties his various plot threads is impressive, and showcases his skillful plotting, but is stylistically bland. It’s a fine thriller, just not a sparkling one, to be read and enjoyed, then shelved and forgotten.
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publish Date: 6-Jun-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom