Over many years of reading and enjoying Grisham’s books, which mainly focus on the law and those who fall foul of it, I’ve picked up quite a bit of the jargon – the tort and the DUI (driving under influence) and the bright young things scouring the courts for potential clients all might make me feel I could turn my own hand to practising a bit of law myself!
In this novel, law student friends Mark, Todd, Gordy and Zola are studying towards their finals in the weirdly named Foggy Bottom Law School and racking up huge student debts. They feel their chances of getting good jobs in some of the Washington DC top law firms are slim and when Gordy, who’s been acting strangely, tells them of his conspiracy theories about the running of their law school and the dodgy student loan companies they try to pull him back to reality.
But when this fails, Mark and Todd decide ‘enough is enough’ of sitting in law lectures and only getting work at their favourite local, ‘The Rooster Bar’, they wonder if they could hang about at the courts and pass themselves off as lawyers.
Zola joins them when her own personal problems escalate. Her family had come from Senegal and, although she is an American citizen, the authorities are soon knocking on the door of her mother, father and brother. She’ll have to dig deep into her own law knowledge to settle their case and he needs money too.
As the three somehow dodge being caught, they also plan to expose the crooked hedge fund billionaire who owns their law school and the bank that profits from their loans.
As unlikely as the plot seems I was really hoping they’d succeed and their vulnerability as young people trying to start out in their careers and caring for their families makes them seem less than likely criminals.
The writing is good, the characters very believable and the twists and turns towards the end make me think it’d be a good film. We get an insight into small town America and travel further afield too to add interest to the small somewhat incestuous world of law making in the capital.
A great personal read and, for book clubs and fans of Grisham, another one to add to his successful bestseller list.
Philipa Coughlan 4/4
The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
Hodder Paperbacks 9781473616998 pbk Jun 2018