Addition: Paperback
Genre: Thriller, law fiction
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five. His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies – Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why. I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story.

I have read a few John Grisham novels over the years, starting with the Rain Maker, but it is my husband who is the Grisham fan in our house. I borrowed The Racketeer from a friend for my husband to read and he really enjoyed it. In fact, he read it in one weekend, which is quite unusual for him. He recommended the novel to me, so I thought I would try it, and I am really pleased I did.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel. The previous Grisham books I have read have focussed around lawyers fighting injustices in court. This book is slightly different – it is a lawyer seeking revenge on the FBI who have put him in jail. I looked at some of the Goodreads comments before reading this novel and it is a mixed bag. A lot of the hardcore Grisham fans seemed disappointed with this novel as it isn’t his usual style, but as someone who dips into his novels, I liked it. I found the story engrossing and I of course did not work out the twist. I kept saying to my husband “where has so-and-so appeared from and what is their link in the story”, but he wouldn’t tell me! I was intrigued by the story and was guessing up until the end.

I started off by liking Malcolm Bannister, but as the story progressed I found myself disliking him! In fact, I’m not sure I liked any of the characters. Not one of them sticks out in my mind as one I related to or even cared for as I read the book. However, this book has a good story so the lack of likable characters didn’t bother me at all.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written with a good twist. I am pleased I borrowed it for my husband and then chose to read it myself. I even then passed it on to my Mum, who also enjoyed it. Grisham still writes about a lawyer, this novel just has a different spin on the role of the lawyer. I didn’t guess the ending and did have the “oh, I get it now” moment. I thought this was a great read, different from the novels I tend to read. It was exhilarating and fast paced. I was hooked from the beginning and can happily rate this book 4 out of 5.

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Book number 17 in 2014 is another one from my 2014 Mount TBR Challenge. I am pleased to say I can now check off my list Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. I now only have 8 books left in that challenge to read.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. The reason I had been putting it off was although I had seen good publicity about it, my Mum had found it boring. I was nervous about reading this book in case I too found it boring and found that I would prefer to put it down. However, I quite enjoyed it! To be honest, I did find the scientific side dull as I didn’t understand it, but the story itself was fascinating. I probably read half the book in one day. I liked the original way the book was written and I found this novel a good read. I will write more in my review, but I have rated this book 3 out of 5.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, political
Published: 2006
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

I picked this book up as it was picked in our book club. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading it.

The story follows Allan, who on his 100th birthday decides he has had enough of the residential home he has been living in so he climbs out of the window and slowly shuffles to the bus station. There, a criminal asks him to keep an eye on his large suitcase whilst he uses the facilities. Allan, however, decides that he will take the suitcase with him when he boards the bus. This is the beginning of an escape across the country and a police search for him. Whilst all this is going on, we are taken back in time to learn about Allan and the eventful life he has led. He grew up in Sweden but has seen a lot of the world, and mostly by accident. He has been involved in making atom bombs and walked across the Himalayas, plus encountered many political figures in his life.

At the start of this book I was gripped. I was fascinated by this old man and why he was escaping from the home he lived in. He was an interesting character – quite quirky and different. I think what surprised me was that he did seem to have all his wits about him, which I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed from the fact he decides to escape through a window. I did find the early recounting of his life interesting too. At the beginning it was exciting learning about all the places he ended up – always by accident – and the political figures he met. I did find the book fairly funny too, but eventually the book got very same-y. Everything seemed to be repeating itself and the book became quite predictable. The political figures changed but the storylines and encounters remained the same. Even the current day events became a touch boring. I felt the book was a little too long and some of the adventures could have been cut out.

There isn’t a standout, favourite character for me. To begin with I liked Allan, but on reflection all I can remember about him is that he liked vodka and didn’t like politics. I don’t remember much about the other characters to be honest.

At the book club I go to we rate everything out of 10 and the overall score this book earned was 7.3. The general feedback was: it was funny with a good pace and a good ending. A friend of mine has also recently read the book. His thoughts are here.

Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 5. It started with great potential. It was interesting and funny but I felt it went on too long and become predictable, with very similar stories all the way through it.

3 star

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This is the reading circle book on the Book Club Forum so this review will be a bit different.

Waterstone’s Synopsis:

Former tiffinboy Ram Mohammad Thomas has just got twelve questions correct on a TV quiz-show to win a cool one billion rupees. But he is brutally slung in prison on suspicion of cheating. Because how can a kid from the slums know who Shakespeare was, unless he is pulling a fast one. In the order of the questions on the show, Ram tells us which amazing adventures in his street-kid life gave him the answers. From orphanages to brothels, gangsters to beggar-masters, and into the homes of Bollywood’s rich and famous, Ram’s story is brimming with the chaotic comedy, heart-stopping tragedy and tear-inducing joyousness of modern India.

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

I think my favourite character was Salim. He was a constant companion and even when Ram left him he was forgiving when he came back and was always a friend. Alongside that, whatever corruption he saw, his dreams and his ideals were not shattered. He pursued him dream and saw victory.
2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

There were two parts I disliked: the scene with the prostitute in hospital is the first one. Ram really wanted to save her and love her but due to her brother he couldn’t do that. He was blamed for what someone else did to her and it made me sad that his good intentions were wasted. The second part I disliked was the orphan kids who were maimed to make money. I thought that was just horrible.

I really liked the description of the Taj Mahal however. How the building takes on different characters throughout the day and how it looked in the moonlight when Ram was told he was loved. It sounded breathtaking and was just wonderful to read.
3. Was this the first book you’ve read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

This is not the first book in this genre I have read. It reminded me of White Tiger, which I also enjoyed. I found it fascinating genre – learning about other cultures: the poverty, the triumphs and the politics.
4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

I think for me, the coincidences which led him to know all the answers seemed unreal to me but it did make for a good read. I struggled a bit with the names and I sometimes didn’t know where I was in his lifetime and how old he was.
5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Yes it was. I enjoyed this book and didn’t find it a hard read. I would recommend this to others and I definitely preferred the book to the film.


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