Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'The Racketeer' by John Grisham

John Grisham's work runs the gambit.  Some serious, some funny, some nostalgic, and some sporty. But no matter what you know you're in for a good read. This one is no different. 'The Racketeer' falls somewhere between the seriousness of 'The Confession' and the fun of 'The Litigators'.

Our friend, Malcolm Bannister, is a lawyer who is in jail (I'll pause for your jokes here) for a crime he didn't commit. (Another pause). Fortunately for him the unfortunate demise of a Federal judge and his lady (hot, young, sexy, hot, you get the picture) friend is his key for early release. No clues, no witnesses, no leads, and no evidence. These frivolous minor details don't bother the FBI and they don't really bother Malcolm. He knows the truth and the Feds will pay dearly for it. Of course when dealing with the Feds and a jailed lawyer, "truth" is more of a mythological punchline than anything else.

While 'The Racketeer' is a fast read make yourself slow down, especially near the end. There are many pieces to this puzzle and you'll miss it if you read at the speed in which John writes. I mentioned earlier that our boy Malcolm goes through some pretty extraordinary lengths to get what he wants and that IS NOT an exaggeration. But then the question we must ask ourselves is; what is the price of freedom?  What would you pay for or suffer through just for the chance to be free?  You're about to find out. Oh… and what if that taste of freedom was seasoned with a bit of revenge?

Malcolm has people to pay back, but before he does that he must deal with this little issue of piecing together a plan with more moving parts than the space shuttle and a failure rate of my high school algebra class. Will it work?  Well that depends on your working definition of "work". Either way it'll be fun.  And it was fun.  With every new Grisham book there are always the litany of superlatives that follow it.  “King of the legal thriller”, “America’s greatest storyteller”, “John Grisham is uber-popular”, “John Grisham is Jason’s best friend”, “John is a magnificent storyteller”.  While I don’t doubt these claims, I’ve never once bought a book based on a five word praise fest.  I rely on other book lovers like myself.  You don’t know me, but I ask you to trust me on this; Grisham is the man and he’s earned it.  That’s my eight word praise fest.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

'I Have a Dream' by Kadir Nelson

It doesn't seem right; that we can go into a bookstore and find a book whose artwork should be in a museum and whose words should be between leather bound covers.  Anyone with a brain knows of Dr. King's speech, and anyone with a soul has had it stirred when they hear it.  Kadir Nelson takes one of the most iconic speeches in the history of us and combines it with artwork that can only be described as 'soul candy'.  

Why?  Because it is just that.  My parent's generation will smile and bear witness that they were blessed to live during the time of this amazing man.  My generation will be grateful and a bit jealous that we missed the living era of Martin.  My children's generation can only hope that there will be a man anywhere close to the person that was Dr. King.  

Dr. King’s "I Have a Dream" speech will obviously stand out but the other treat is Kadir's mesmerizing artwork.  The cover of this book tells you exactly what you'll see on the inside.  His work is moving, spiritual, inspiring, stunning, timeless, and historic.  

This book is an annotated version of Dr. King's speech in concert with Kadir's afore mentioned soulful artwork.  This book also comes with a CD that has Dr. King's complete speech on it AND the entire speech is printed at the end of this book as well.  Dr. King’s legacy and his speech have been used by everyone; and not all of it good.  Dr. King’s legacy really doesn’t need any embellishment or added fluff.  The memorial in Washington (FINALLY) and this book are two instances where it IS needed.  And welcomed.  Now please understand that I don’t mean to compare the memorial with this book, it’s just that in a world where there are countless Dr. King highways, youth centers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and parks, it’s nice to have two shining examples of a true representation of Dr. King’s legacy.

But unlike the memorial you won’t have to travel to Washington to enjoy this book.  Your local bookstore will do.