Top positive review
Bit of a cocktail
16 November 2017
John Grisham books are always well written and enjoyable while making a point. I would like to knock half a star off this one because at the end I was left a little down hearted. To be fair it is about disillusionment so perhaps that was the intended result.
Three law students Mark, Todd, and Zola come to realise their law course is a sham and they have mounting student debts. This friend goes bipolar and commits suicide but not before describing how the whole scam works. They try their hand at being lawyers but get deeper in fraud. Their lives start to unravel and they are forced to escape and hide. But are they able to make a comeback. Will the perpetrators of the scam receive justice and will their friend be vindicated.
This story becomes a bit of a cocktail. There is the usual Grishamesque description of the court system where justice out of control. It seems at first that Mark and Todd might succeed but it is a dog eat dog existence and newcomers are not welcome. Another is the fate of Zola's family who go through the eviction from America process to Senegal. This is pretty unpleasant at both ends.
Another is the complex web of companies behind the law school scam. The company is vertically integrated from governments grants through fees and private student loans and debt collection. Separately providing dubious banking services for the system and the wider community. This is a very strong area and sub plot for John Grisham. It is also sad.
The main story is about the students who turn to fraud to survive. Unlike the big end of town their criminal behaviour is immediately acted on. As they say "why pick on us with all the terrorism and murders that need to be solved". John conveys the sense of helplessness of their situation very well.
There is some redemption at the end. Mostly it is about escaping. It may depend on your outlook whether you see some justice or like me leave a bit downhearted. This is a theme Grisham has used before. The Firm is one example. It provides a chase for keep you interested but the ending while realistic represents the overwhelming odds that individuals are up against and escape becomes the only answer.
Grisham has added his touch to the book so it should be read. I found it not quite up to the bar but still above other authors might do.