Saturday, July 29, 2017

I guess I thought you were a golden idol: CAMINO ISLAND.

Camino IslandCamino Island by John Grisham

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Princeton University houses five valuable manuscripts--all the originals of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels. They are housed in the basement under a veil of security, but not enough to stop a band of clever thieves from breaking in and stealing them. This sets loose a chain of events and angers both the FBI, who is trying to track down the criminals, and the insurance company, as they are on the hook for $25 million unless the manuscripts are returned. Meanwhile, on touristy Camino Island, Bruce Cable runs a popular bookstore/coffee shop. Thanks to a lot of persistence and hard work, he's managed to keep it profitable even in the digital age. He's also a major backer of the many authors who come through his town on book tours. But few of those authors, or Bruce's patrons, know that Bruce keeps a vault in his shop housing a variety of rare books and manuscripts--some stolen. Finally, we turn to Mercer Mann--Mercer's just lost her teaching position, and she's three years overdue on delivering her next book to her publisher. She's also drowning in student loans. Mercer's approached by a beautiful and elegant woman who offers her a lot of money to get close to Bruce Cable and learn all about his web of secrets. Trouble, as you may guess, ensues.

I have a soft spot for Grisham, that's for sure. I fell in love with his first novels as a young teen, and I still love Darby Shaw, Gray Grantham, Mark Sway, Reverend Roy, and Reggie Love as if they were real people. Grisham and his family have a home in my town, and we claim him as one of our own. His books are often an easy escape, and CAMINO ISLAND falls into that category. Is it as memorable as The Pelican Brief or The Client? No. Is it a fun diversion for a few days? Sure.

CAMINO ISLAND is a change from most of Grisham's legal thrillers--there are no lawyers or court room scenes here, just some tricky criminals, a heist, and the aftermath. You'll need to keep track of the various bad guys in the beginning, but once you get past that, it's an easy breezy read--much like the Florida setting where most of the novel is set. Mercer's a pleasant, albeit not very complicated protagonist, and Bruce Cable is a trip. It's also a detailed exploration into the world of rare books--something I knew little to nothing about.

Overall, this is fun, easy thriller. There are a few twists and turns along the way to keep you interested, and Grisham's characters are always enjoyable. The ending wraps up fairly quickly after all the build-up, so be prepared for that. Is it Grisham's best? No. But it will keep you entertained for a couple of days. 3.5 stars.

You can read my reviews of Grisham's novels THE WHISTLER here and ROGUE LAWYER here.

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