What’s it all about?:
‘The best thriller writer alive’ – Ken Follett
I’m not a typical lawyer. I don’t maintain a pretty office filled with mahogany and leather. I don’t belong to a big firm, prestigious or otherwise. I don’t do good works through the bar association. I’m a lone gunman, a rogue who fights bad systems and hates injustice . . .
Sebastian Rudd takes the cases no one else wants to take: the drug-addled punk accused of murdering two little girls; a crime lord on death row; a homeowner who shot at a SWAT team.
Rudd believes that every person accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial – even if he has to cheat to get one. He antagonises people from both sides of the law: his last office was firebombed, either by drug dealers or cops. He doesn’t know or care which.
But things are about to get even more complicated for Sebastian. Arch Swanger is the prime suspect in the abduction and presumed murder of 21-year-old Jiliana Kemp, the daughter of the assistant chief of police. When Swanger asks Sebastian to represent him, he lets Sebastian in on a terrible secret . . . one that will threaten everything Sebastian holds dear.
Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer is the master of the legal thriller at his very best.
What did I think?:
In my late teens, John Grisham was one of my favourite authors and I used to rave about his books, in particular, A Time To Kill, The Client and The Chamber which were all very entertaining and thrilling reads and probably get my highest recommendation if you’ve never read any Grisham before. Somewhere along the way and for reasons I’m unsure of, I stopped reading him and Rogue Lawyer has been my first Grisham novel for a long while. Did he still have what it took to keep me turning the pages? Short answer – yes he did. I’ve noticed this book has come in for a bit of criticism on GoodReads with a lot of John Grisham fans being sorely disappointed, some disliking the style of the book, others believing it was too similar to another of his novels, The Lincoln Lawyer but personally, I have to disagree.
Our “rogue lawyer,” in the story is Sebastian Rudd, who isn’t part of a big corporation but works as sort of a lone wolf, taking on those cases most other lawyers wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, defending the nastiest, the down-trodden and occasionally, the poorest clients. This is all because Sebastian has a deep hatred for large companies, corrupt police forces and the like and has a steely determination to get justice for his client, especially if he believes they are innocent of the charges against them.
What made this book slightly different from all the other legal thrillers Grisham writes in my eyes was that it read almost like a book of short stories. We don’t just see the one case pursued and dissected throughout the novel, but a number of different cases with very different clients which I personally really enjoyed. I felt it was made slightly more realistic by the fact that no, Sebastian does not win every case he takes on and of course, not all of his clients are really innocent. However, I loved reading about his interactions with each one individually and felt I learned more about Sebastian as a character – he is obviously not perfect, has questionable parenting skills and occasionally has to play dirty to get the result he wants but it made him infinitely more plausible as a human being and definitely more fun to read about.
Sebastian’s personal life has also been full with trials and tribulations, his ex-wife left him for another woman and although they have a son together, his wife has full custody and he sees his son very rarely. He knows he has a lot to learn regarding fatherhood and messes up a couple of times (like we all do!) but at the end of the day, wants to be there for his son and do a decent job of bringing him up. Grisham manages to mix with an expert hand the personal aspects of Rudd’s life with the action-packed, occasionally very dangerous job of being a rogue lawyer such as himself and I loved that each separate case Rudd came across had a thrilling element where I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. The door is wide open for a sequel on Sebastian Rudd and I hope John Grisham reads enough of the positive reviews and less of the negative reviews so that he will not be dissuaded from writing a follow up. I certainly would be interested to see what happens to Rudd next and I’m very glad I came “back to Grisham!”
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):