The Rooster Bar by John Grisham #BookReview (@JohnGrisham) @HodderBooks #TheRoosterBar #Thriller #Legal

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“Law students Mark, Todd and Zola wanted to change the world – to make it a better place. But these days these three disillusioned friends spend a lot of time hanging out in The Rooster Bar, the place where Todd serves drinks. As third-year students, they realise they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specialising in student loans, the three realise they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

So they begin plotting a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they have to leave law school, pretend they are qualified and go into battle with a billionaire and the FBI . . .”

Ah, Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Back to school, the weather starts to nip, boots and coats are dug out of the closet, the leaves change colour and…it is time for a new John Grisham release. I always equate this time of year with the time to get a new one of his book. I now always have them on pre-order so I get them the day they come out, because I absolutely love his books. Always an edge-of-your-seat, irresistible combination of thriller and legal puzzle, his book are guaranteed to keep me glued to the pages from start to finish. I normally devour them as soon as they are out.

So imagine my surprise when, whilst waiting for his new book The Reckoning to be published, I realised that I hadn’t read last year’s release, The Rooster Bar. How did that happen? I can’t imagine except that my memory is like a sieve these days (I blame my age and hormones. In fact, it is even possible that I have read it and forgotten, things have got that bad.) Anyway, happy days – I now had another unread John Grisham to enjoy on my recent holiday.

I am always fascinated as to where authors get their ideas for novels from and there is an interesting note at the back of this book where Grisham reveals that the idea for this novel came from an article he read about the level of debt students in the US were taking on in order to put themselves through law school. Quite how he goes from what sounds like quite a dull article, particularly to non-lawyers, to a nail-biting thriller is the nature of his genius, because somehow he manages to spin it in to one of his classic plots that kept me up late desperate to get to the end.

The plot of this book is quite outrageous and I think you need to suspend your disbelief to buy in to it, but that is true of most thrillers, which are by their nature outlandish and pushing the boundaries of what is probable. These books are pure escapism, sometimes keeping only a slight grasp on reality and I am sure the court system in the USA would be outraged to think this could possibly happen (although I am now waiting for someone to tell me that it has been done.) Anyway, likelihood aside, the plot is original and gripping and an interesting spin on the ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ roles as the protagonists are actually breaking the law but we still end up rooting for them, despite the fact that they are jeopardising the futures of their clients, because they themselves are victims in some respects. Should they get away scot-free? Is what happens to them justice? I don’t want to give anything away by revealing my thoughts but I think you will find more to ponder in these books than people often give Grisham credit for.

When I have revealed to people in the past what a massive fan I am of John Grisham’s books, I have met with some literary snobbery, most particularly from people who have never read any of his books. Well, firstly, I would query whether you can form a valid opinion of an author without reading a word they have written. And, secondly, you don’t sell as many books as John Grisham has without being able to write. He is the master of creating a taut, exciting and interesting thriller and this one is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I always do, and can’t wait to read his new book.

The Rooster Bar is available now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham’s hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing’s greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham’s success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, The Associate, The Confession, The Litigators, Calico Joe, The Racketeer, Sycamore Row, and Gray Mountain) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 300 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books’ protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.

When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Follow John on social media:

Website: http://www.jgrisham.com

Facebook: John Grisham

Twitter: @JohnGrisham

Instagram: @johngrishamauthor

Stitch Up by William McIntyre #BookReview #BlogTour (@Best_Defence) @SandstonePress #StitchUp #TartanNoir

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Excited to be taking part in the blog tour today for Stitch Up by William McIntyre. My thanks to Ceris Jones at Sandstone Press for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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“Everything is coming up roses for Robbie Munro, newly married and living in the country with wife and child. That is until his wife takes up employment abroad just as old flame, Jill Green, asks him to investigate the unexplained death of her partner.

Suspecting foul play, Jill insists Robbie turns poacher to gamekeeper and does whatever it takes to find the killer with no expense spared. Another killer on the loose is child-murderer Ricky Hertz, whose twenty-year-old conviction is under scrutiny.

Was the evidence at his trial fabricated? Suspicion falls on Robbie’s father who now faces a criminal prosecution. The only way to prove ex-Police Sergeant Alex Munro’s innocence is for Robbie to show there was no miscarriage of justice.

I was really excited to be asked to review this book as I particularly enjoy fiction with a legal element, given my background in law and I have to say I was not disappointed. Although this is the ninth book in the Best Defence series, it is the first one I have read but it will definitely not be the last.

The main character in the book, Robbie Munro, is a criminal lawyer just like the author and McIntyre’s background knowledge really shines through in the writing and makes the book feel very authentic (although I’m not sure most real lawyers would go as far as he done in the pursuit of the truth). I really enjoyed the legal spin on the traditional crime thriller, it gave an interesting and unusual perspective that was refreshing.

The characters in this book are entertaining and, on the most part, very likeable and I was drawn through the book very easily, my interest held from page to page. Robbie’s personal life features quite heavily, particularly as his father is the subject of one of the two story lines, and I really enjoyed this aspect, particularly the appearances of his daughter, who is a feisty six-year-old with a lot of opinions she is not afraid to express. It gave the book a lightness amongst the tension which was very enjoyable.

As indicated above, there are two plots running along side by side. One is the re-opening of an old case involving Robbie’s father which he gets involved in in the hopes of keeping his father from jail. The other is a recent death that he is invited to investigate by his ex-fiance. The dual story lines were both well-plotted and intriguing and kept the book interesting and moving forward. There were plenty of twists and turns to propel the book forwards and I did not see most of them coming, the writing is very clever. I really enjoyed the whole tone of the book, it was very easy to get engrossed in.

The book is set in Linlithgow, not a place I know well, and I really loved the flavour of Scotland infused throughout. Tartan Noir is a big trend at the moment and this book is a welcome addition to the genre.

I would highly recommend this book and I will definitely be going back to read the previous books in the series.

Stitch Up is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and find out what my fabulous fellow bloggers think of the book, see the details below:

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About the Author

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William McIntyre is a lawyer involved in criminal defence work for so long that he can remember when the Scots Criminal Justice System was regarded as the best in the world, the days when it was ‘better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted.’

Stitch Up is William McIntyre’s fourth Best Defence Mystery published by Sandstone Press.

Connect with William:

Website: http://bestdefence.biz

Facebook: The Best Defence Series

Twitter: @Best_Defence

Goodreads: William H S McIntyre

Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff #BookReview

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“After five gruelling years, Robert Worth is just days away from making partner at a powerful Santa Monica law firm. When a client confides in him that senior partner Jack Pierce sexually assaulted her, Robert breaks two of his mentor’s cardinal rules: Never let yourself get emotional about clients. And never make an enemy of Jack Pierce.

Robert crosses Pierce and is fired on the spot, losing not only his job but also his reputation. Advised to go quietly, Robert vows revenge against the ruthless man who betrayed him. But his investigation uncovers a twisted shadow world of sex, infidelity, and deception, where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Only one thing is clear: Pierce will go the limit to keep his secrets.

This straight shooter will need to use every angle if he hopes to win. But could victory come at too high a price?”

From reading the blurb, I was eager to get stuck into this book as I was hoping that I could find a new author to rival to John Grisham. I love a good legal thriller and this book sounded extremely promising. Sadly, it fell very far short of my expectations.

There are multiple issues with this book, beginning with the pacing. This books starts off extremely slowly. I understand that the author is trying to establish the characters and their place in the hierarchy of the law firm as the footing for the story to come. Unfortunately, he chooses to do this by going into tedious detail of the everyday technical running of a law firm, right down to the minutiae of how lawyers record their time for billing purposes. None of this has any bearing on the plot whatsoever and just serves to drag the story to a crawl, right at the point where it should be grabbing our attention. The opening chapters also include a lot of legal jargon which I imagine would be largely incomprehensible to a non-lawyer – even I struggled – and it really didn’t seem necessary to advance the understanding of the story. There also appeared to be some things happening which, as a lawyer, just didn’t ring true to me at all, unless the US legal profession is totally different to the UK one in fundamental ways. This would probably be unnoticeable to people without a legal background but I have never felt like this when reading an American legal thriller before.

I was also excessively annoyed in the opening chapters by some lazy errors; in grammar, in tense and in a very simple calculation on one page which made me wonder if this book had been edited by anyone other than the author at all, and I continued to feel like that throughout the book.

Further problems in the opening chapters came in the guise of over-writing, stilted descriptions and an uncomfortable use of language. To be honest, it made me cringe quite a lot, and again I wondered if this book had been professionally edited. I tried to make allowances for the fact that this is his first novel and, to be fair, it did seem to settle into a better rhythm further on but I guess I set off on the journey with a less than favourable impression from the opening chapters, which was unfortunate.

We then move on to the plot, which is both so twisted and labyrinthine as to be almost incomprehensible by the end and, at the same time, totally lacking in any real action until the very last pages, where a brief flurry is shoe-horned in, in order to fulfil the ‘thriller’ tag. It really was one of the most unevenly paced books I have ever read. There were so many twists in who were the baddies, who were the heroes and what everyone’s motives were for doing what they did that it was almost nonsensical. When it came down to it, I just didn’t really believe that so many unpleasant, selfish, immoral people with devious intent happened to co-exist in one tiny orbit.

The most damning issue of all was the complete lack of empathy I had all the way through with any of the characters. They were all unpleasant, they were all uncharismatic, they were all shallow and self-centred. I could not bring myself to care what became of any of them. That was the biggest problem – by the end of the book I really just did not care what happened, I just wanted it to be over. Basically, it was too much hard work for too little return, not at all what I personally am looking for in a book of this nature.

I really wanted to like this book and I hate giving a negative review but this book was very disappointing and I couldn’t hand on heart recommend it. However, this is just my opinion and it appears from other reviews that many people loved it. May be I went into it with too high an expectation. If you would like to read it and make your own judgement, the book is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

Avery Duff was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he attended Baylor School and graduated summa cum laude. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. He then joined a prestigious Tennessee law firm, becoming a partner in five years, before moving to Los Angeles. His screenwriting credits include the 2010 heist drama Takers, starring Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, and Hayden Christensen. Duff lives at the beach in Los Angeles and spends his time writing fiction. Beach Lawyer is his first published novel.