Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Whistler by John Grisham

29354916We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

Bestselling author John Grisham is one of the most popular novelists of our time, who first shot into prominence in 1988 with "A Time to Kill”, a story set in a small fictional town called Clanton, Mississippi. It was the story of a ten-year-old black girl who was raped and disfigured by two whites, of an incensed father who takes the law into his own hands by killing the two rapists in a courthouse shooting, and of the young but sharp defense lawyer Jake Brigance who saved him from the gas chamber.

Since then there has been no looking back for John Grisham. He has written almost thirty #1 bestsellers. As a huge fan of the author, I noticed that he had earlier shied away from female protagonists, though in 1993 he delivered a stunning and suspenseful novel, The Pelican Brief, with Darby Shaw as the female protagonist. It took the author twenty-one years to create another female protagonist in his mediocre 2014 outing Gray Mountain. With just a gap of one year and a novel, Grisham returns with a thriller about a dangerous investigation into high levels of judicial corruption featuring a female protagonist.

The Whistler by John Grisham is about two investigators, Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch, who work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, which monitors judicial misconducts. With much not happening, Lacy finds her work quite dull. But that changes soon after she is approached by Greg Myers, who represented a whistle blower. Greg is a disbarred lawyer, and he wanted Lacy to investigate a corrupt judge who was working in collusion with the mafia taking in $250,000 in cash each month. This money comes from a casino operated by Native Americans with a merciless mobster at the helm. Will the judge and the mobster who have been working together seamlessly for the past 11 years allow Lacy to blow the lid on their clandestine activities?

In The Whistler, you can expect John Grisham to deliver what he has always delivered – a superb plot with the kind of legal drama only he can deliver. It is an engrossing look at judicial corruption which will make readers think twice in future. As always, he has created finely etched characters who are easily relatable. Lacy Stoltz’s character has been imaginatively conceived. She is attractive but at the wrong side of her thirties, and is still single. This is not merely another legal thriller from the ace writer but one with elements of romance, mystery and suspense. If you’re disappointed by Sebastian Rudd in Rogue Lawyer (2015), author John Grisham will make it up with Lacy Stoltz in The Whistler.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

29154543Harry Bosch is California's newest private investigator. He doesn't advertise, he doesn't have an office, and he's picky about who he works for, but it doesn't matter. His chops from thirty years with the LAPD speak for themselves.

Soon one of Southern California's biggest moguls comes calling. The reclusive billionaire is nearing the end of his life and is haunted by one regret. When he was young, he had a relationship with a Mexican girl, his great love. But soon after becoming pregnant, she disappeared. Did she have the baby? And if so, what happened to it?

Desperate to know whether he has an heir, the dying magnate hires Bosch, the only person he can trust. With such a vast fortune at stake, Harry realizes that his mission could be risky not only for himself but for the one he's seeking. But as he begins to uncover the haunting story--and finds uncanny links to his own past--he knows he cannot rest until he finds the truth.

At the same time, unable to leave cop work behind completely, he volunteers as an investigator for a tiny cash-strapped police department and finds himself tracking a serial rapist who is one of the most baffling and dangerous foes he has ever faced.

I love books with names that sound interesting. This latest Harry Bosch mystery thriller, The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly, is one that I wouldn’t miss for anything in the world. And my optimism about the book was richly rewarded as this installment brings out the best in both the author Michael Connelly and his creation, the maverick but simply unpindownable and indefatigable Harry Bosch. Surely, our hero has come a long way since the release of the first installment, The Black Echo, in the early nineteen nineties.

In The Wrong Side of Goodbye, bestselling author Michael Connelly spins a nail-biting suspense-filled action adventure, weaving different threads into the story for an exciting climax. The main thread revolves around Whitney Vance, a reclusive billionaire who believes that his time is almost up, and must do something about it. He arranged a secret meeting with Bosch and pays $10,000. Vance tells Bosch that he has no heir to his empire and wants him to find out if his lover, a Mexican named Vibiana Duarte, who disappeared more than sixty years ago when he was about eighteen years old borne him a child. But it was to be investigated inconspicuously without the knowledge of the board of his company.

When Bosch sets out on the Vance case, he instinctively knew that it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Daunting and dangerous! There are many who would prefer to let the fast sinking billionaire die a lonely death. Bosch also had to deal with the case of the serial rapist, who was nicknamed “Screen Cutter.” Author Michael Connelly crafted a wonderfully conceived story with diverse threads that will leave readers gasping for a breath or two. With the Connelly-twists and turns and an eclectic cast of characters, the story flows seamlessly from beginning to end. The sheer intensity of the plot and brilliance of Connelly leaves me wondering if I have just read his finest work to date.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

28815371A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

The title is not exactly something that you’d look for. But beneath this bland and uninviting name lies a story that is poignant, captivating and simply un-put-downable. The Mothers by Brit Bennett turns out to be one of the most exciting books of the season, and debutant author Brit Bennett the toast of many readers. With her work featured in prestigious publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel, author Brit Bennett is here to stay and I’m looking forward to read more of her books in the years to come.

The Mothers is the story of seventeen years old Nadia Turner who is grieving the death of her mother. The pain is all the more acute as her mother didn’t die a natural death. She’d committed suicide. Set in Oceanside, CA, this is also the story of Luke, who is the son of the local church’s pastor. Then there is Aubrey Evans, with whom Nadia shares a common bond. They are both without mothers. But in Aubrey’s case, her mother didn’t die. She’s motherless because her mother chose to be. And the two girls also share one thing in common – Luke, with whom both fall in love at different point of time.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a deeply moving story which centres around this trio of teenagers and follow them till their mid-twenties - through high school, college and into adulthood. What makes the book really engaging is the difficult choices each have to make, and how it will shape their lives. The author crafted a brilliant story with nuanced characters, allowing delicate shades of meaning to be appreciated. It is a riveting, heart-wrenching and moving story about mothers, and motherhood with many readers likely to relate themselves to the situations and characters in the story. While the title can refer to Nadia herself, it would be more pragmatic to say that it refers to the elderly churchgoing women who comment on the congregation around them. The Mothers is a story of the choices that we make, the secrets that we keep, and its lasting impact on our lives.