Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Partners: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

“I’m not sure I want to get involved in this one,” Sebastian mumbled.

© Doubleday
Partners: Rogue Lawyer (2016) is a 60-page prequel to John Grisham’s full novel Rogue Lawyer published a year before. It is also the bestselling author’s first digital short story, or novella. And it’s written in Grisham’s trademark style; the prose sharp and precise, where every line impels the reader to move on to the next line and the one after, and read through until the end.

Since I hadn’t read the novel, it seemed appropriate to read the short story first and learn how rogue lawyer Sebastian Rudd meets up with Thomas Cardell (alias Tee Ray) who, by the end, offers to become his man Friday, his partner, bodyguard, law clerk and driver rolled into one.

Basically, Grisham wrote Rogue Lawyer introducing Rudd and Cardell to readers, and then decided to write a prequel about how the two met.

Rudd, somewhere in his early thirties, is a street lawyer who operates from a cheap bar-turned-law office in a drug-infested neighbourhood. He defends people other lawyers won’t go near. He knows they’re criminals and probably guilty even before they step inside a courtroom. Rudd has built a reputation as a skilled defence lawyer and has had more jury trials than others his age. He is also the most unpopular lawyer in town.

The rogue lawyer’s unpopularity shoots up when he reluctantly agrees to defend Tee Ray, a Black drug carrier arrested for killing a White cop in self defence. The dead cop, an honour student and a decorated Marine, has the town, the media and the entire police force behind him; Rudd has the backing of his client’s employers, a territorial drug organisation, and threats to his life.

Rudd is aware, without evidence and witnesses, the drug dealer would be sentenced to death for the
murder of the police officer. So he digs and discovers, with help from his point man in the organisation, that Tee Ray is actually telling the truth; that he was forced to shoot the cop only after the former fired at him several times. The cop wanted a scapegoat, to achieve his month’s target, and Tee Ray seemed like easy pickings. He was clean when he was set upon. A swift trial follows.

Partners is a fast-paced and well-crafted story about not just a street crime or a crime against a police officer, but also about racial violence against Blacks, and is reminiscent of America in the 60s and perhaps even today. Grisham, as is his tradition, handles the subject with skill and sensitivity. What I liked about this story is he not only makes the good guys look good, he doesn’t make the bad ones look very bad. His characters, irrespective of which side of the law they belong to, are only human, with their share of foibles and weaknesses. Another endearing quality about Grisham’s stories is his empathy for the underdog—like Tee Ray
and his dream of providing a good life for his teenage son—and the manner in which he gives them a voice that touches the reader. He makes one think, there is justice in this world, after all.

12 comments:

  1. We were out just a couple weeks ago with a buddy of mine and his wife and the talk turned to John Grisham. We agreed we liked his legal thrillers far more than the hand full of non-thrillers he has turned out over the years. I am a fan of Grisham. But interviews with him touching on his writing process infuriate me. He is so darned disciplined!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elgin, I suppose Grisham wouldn't have written so many books if he wasn't disciplined about his writing. I like his legal thrillers, too, partly because of his clear and simple style.

      Delete
  2. I must read this! I just recently finished Rogue Lawyer and loved it! Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Nan. I plan to read ROGUE LAWYER this year.

      Delete
  3. Sounds interesting! I didn't realize he was branching out into novellas...or prequels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, I didn't know either till I stumbled across the Kindle story on Amazon. It was a good read.

      Delete
  4. Prashant, it's been a while since I read anything from John Grisham, thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, I haven't read many of Grisham's novels, and I might read a few this year.

      Delete
  5. Someday I would like to read Rogue Lawyer, then read Partners. I have not read much by Grisham, and I would like to read more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, I like both his stories and storytelling style. He keeps it all simple.

      Delete
  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Prashant. I like Grisham's work very much, and part of the reason is that he does give one hope. And I think he portrays lawyers in an effective way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, he does that, Margot. His lawyers are very human and often down to earth.

      Delete