American police come off badly in John Grisham’s latest novel

American police: Rogue Lawyer by John GrishamIt seems that John Grisham doesn’t much like police or prosecutors, and that he’s not wild about judges in general, either. As he writes in his latest courtroom drama, Rogue Lawyer, “The road to justice is filled with barriers and land mines, most of them created by men and women who claim to be seeking justice.” And even more plainly: “It’s just as well that we don’t believe in fair trials, because we damned sure don’t have them.”


Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


The rogue lawyer of the title, Sebastian Rudd, is a lot like Michael Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer. He, too, is a “street lawyer” who keeps his office in his vehicle and defends the scum of the earth, knowing that nearly all of them are guilty. Rudd is divorced from the lesbian mother of his eight-year-old son and divides his time between working to keep his clients out of prison and fending off vindictive and frivolous legal action by his ex-wife, a divorce lawyer, to deny him any access at all to his son.

Rogue Lawyer is structured in an atypical way for a courtroom drama, beginning with a novella about one case that serves to introduce Rudd and his sidekick (and former client), Partner, and then segueing into a more traditional thriller with multiple plots. In the novella, Rudd’s client has been sent to prison on blatantly trumped-up charges, framed by the notoriously corrupt police of the unnamed city where most of the action takes place. In another case, the city’s “warrior cops” have mistakenly invaded the home of an elderly couple, killing the wife and wounding the husband, and have covered up the later discovery that a disaffected teenager living next door is actually the drug dealer they thought they were going to arrest. In a different strand of the tale, Rudd’s client is the mixed-martial-arts cage fighter whose career he has backed; the young man has flown off the handle after being declared the loser in a fight he appeared to have won — and proceeded to beat the referee to death. And these are just three of several distinct stories tucked into this fascinating look at the underbelly of American law enforcement.

John Grisham is one of the most prolific and successful writers of our time. He is the award-winning author of thirty-two adult novels, five novels for young adults, three nonfiction books, and numerous adaptations of his own work to film and television. Worldwide his sales total in the hundreds of millions of books in forty-two languages.

For additional reading

This is one of 17 fascinating courtroom dramas reviewed.

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