Another victim of my Cyprus holiday streak of crime/thriller reading. The first one was The Winner by David Baldacci. I’ve mentioned a few times already that John Grisham is one of those writers who I fall back on if in need of a decent, but no too challenging entertainment. He has ups and downs, but this one was a surprise for me.
I am used to his courtroom procedurals and I do enjoy them, but this is a
whole different kettle of fish. Here we end up in a shady world of illegal rare books market. Which may not sound too exciting, but makes for pretty interesting reading.
The book starts with the theft of priceless manuscripts from Princeton’s University Firestone Library. Then we meet Mercer Mann, a writer who after publishing a quite successful debut hit a wall. She is just about to lose her teaching job and the apartment she lives in. As a child, Merce spent summers with her grandmother in Camino Island, and those months are her most cherished memories.
Bruce Cable is a prominent figure in Camino Island, being an owner of a
bookshop that became a community hub and a mandatory stop in many book tours across the country. He also deals in rare books. And this is where Mercer, similarly to LuAnn in The Winner, receives an offer she cannot reject.
I must admit that I found Mercer a tad annoying. She seems very needy and
not willing to take control of her fate. It’s as if things keep on happening to
her. Bruce’s backstory is quite interesting, but once Mercer meets him he also seems to become a bit of a cliché. So it’s not a book to read for character development. But if you are looking for something to read on the beach it’s not a bad choice. There is a cast of quirky supporting characters and Grisham manages to keep the tension well. Towards the end, I started rooting for the bad guys, which is also interesting.
I think the main asset of this book is the atmosphere. You can get that
small resort feeling. Where all the permanent inhabitants know each other and know all the gossip about one another. This undercurrent that tourists never truly get to experience. This is what makes it a good summer reading, in the coming months it may fall a bit flat.
Interestingly, it was for this book that Grisham made his first large book
tour after 25 years break. Which is very fitting if you consider the subject