Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Racketeer” as Want to Read:
The Racketeer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Racketeer

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  88,553 ratings  ·  7,825 reviews
Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Doubleday
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Racketeer, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sarah I think they just paid off someone to say Quinn was in rehab at the time, or they had the plan in place and as soon as news hit they sent Quinn up the…moreI think they just paid off someone to say Quinn was in rehab at the time, or they had the plan in place and as soon as news hit they sent Quinn up there. (less)
Rob Damon The ending was predictable, and dragged on a little. But on the whole, it was a clever plot.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  88,553 ratings  ·  7,825 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Racketeer
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The John Grishman of yore has resurfaced with this book. Just when I am beginning to doubt that he is still capable of creating works of the same calibre as his earlier outputs, he came up with this book that is so engrossing I am sure his wayward fans would be resurrected. To say that this has come in the most opportune time is an understatement.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Grisham splats facedown with this mess. Trying for genius protagonist to outsmart everyone around him, instead of clever plans, Grisham relies on a smart mouth. Meanwhile the author dumbs-down everyone else so far they should be wearing special helmets and riding a short bus.

The Feebees are right outta Mayberry, the "hero" is a DICK and none of the story is even remotely credible. Grisham didnt even try. The book starts with the feds being led around by the nose b
Nov 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
The reason I have read all of John Grisham's legal novels is that I like the idea of the little guy taking on the big guy, the bully, the "man" in general. I don't even care if the little guy wins as long as he puts up a good fight. In this story I kept waiting for Mal/Max to become the good guy. The guy that fights the system for the wronged, that avenges his mistreatment by making sure the system works for the next underdog. It didn't happen. Turns out Mal/Max is just a thug, and robs other th ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: past-favourites
John Grisham is Back with a Winner!
I haven’t read a John Grisham book in a long time. This little gem was picked up recently and it was a pleasant surprise. It moved along at a good pace, had an excellent story line, first class dialogue, and will definitely keep the reader on the edge. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I felt as though the only reason this was written was so Denzel Washington could star in the film adaptation. The movie could possibly be alright so I would encourage you to wait, but don't be too disappointed if it is a waist of time as well. ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fairly decent plot by Mr. Grisham in this smarter than you thriller. 8 of 10 stars
Feb 10, 2013 rated it did not like it

Malcolm Bannister was an attorney in a small firm when he was inadvertently caught up in a money laundering scheme, convicted under the RICO statutes, and sent to federal prison. There he became a 'prison lawyer' helping other convicts with their appeals. etc.

When Judge Fawcett - a federal judge in Virginia - is murdered, Bannister contacts the FBI, claiming he will name the killer in exchange for immediate release from prison.

This happens, and once he is free Bannister, with help from a woman
Feb 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm not going to waste my time with an extensive review of this book because I have wasted enough time reading it. I will start by saying that I have loved every one of John Grisham's books until this one. (and I've read every one).

Here is a short list of the problems with this book:

1.) The main character is an unlikable hypocrite. Grisham presents Bannister as a character we should root for. A man who was beaten down by the federal government. He really is a deadbeat dad who can't take two minu
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Certainly an interesting story but one that almost seemed too pat. At the end after reading the book, I found the author's note saying that none of it was real and that he had not done a lot of research on the topic. I don't mind fiction and in fact read a lot of it and have enjoyed Grisham's work in the past. I just found that afterwards it left a sour feeling to read his comments. Perhaps it is the sign of a good storywriter that he didn't need to research and that this story just flowed but i ...more
James Thane
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
When a federal judge named Raymond Fawcett is found murdered in his isolated mountain cabin, mysteries abound. The most important question is why did a judge of very modest means need the large state-of-the-art safe that was found hidden behind a bookcase?

Not surprisingly, the safe is now empty. The judge's young secretary who was found murdered beside him, had been tortured before she was killed. the assumption is that the killers tortured her to force the judge to open the safe before killing
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Starts off with a bang telling a somewhat formulaic "man against the system" story.

Despite having seen it before, it's still fun to watch Grisham's main character (former lawyer and wrongly imprisoned Malcolm Bannister) execute an end-run around the powers-that-be. It is well a thought-out and executed scenario that while unrealistic at times, leaves the reader in a wistful mode wishing it could be so, as Bannister is likeable and has the reader rooting for him.

Midway through the novel, the plot
Karl Marberger
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-political
That was some seriously elaborate racketeering.
THE RACKETEER is the first John Grisham novel I have read in ten years-I hadn't realized it had been so long until I looked at the release date of The Last Juror (which I read when it first came out). Why I waited so long I do not know, they are always fun and quick reads, with lots of twists and turns.

When I looked on the back of the book describing the plot, I almost put it back on the shelf. It sounded so similar to The Pelican Brief. A dead judge..environmental issue...but reading further I
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, own, legal-drama, kindle
This was a fun and twisted story where you are never quite sure what is going on. Grisham does a good job of crafting an unbelievable tale of a falsely accused victim working our federal system to his advantage and turning his bad luck into "gold" .
Mal Warwick
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
John Grisham Walks on the Dark Side, for a Change

When you’re reading somebody’s 25th novel — the 31st of all the books he’s written — you’d be right to expect that he’d gotten the hang of writing. Especially if the guy had already sold more than a quarter of a billion copies of his work. And so it is with John Grisham’s fiendishly clever new novel, The Racketeer. It’s another winner from a man who’s been turning them out for more than two decades.

One aspect of Grisham’s fiendishness is his capac
Rohit Enghakat
Rounding off the year with another book in the "Read" shelf from my once-one-of-the-favourite authors who is fast falling off my favourite lists.

I picked up this e-book with great hopes of getting a good courtroom drama, what with the blurb mentioning about a Supreme Court judge being murdered and the protagonist being a lawyer behind bars (the author has introduced a black lawyer as a protagonist). However, my hopes were dashed as I progressed through the book. The plot is about how a lawyer u
Michael Slavin
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-thriller
"I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It's a long story."
I love this opening line. It does not disappoint.

It is interesting as an innocent black lawyer goes to prison. (You find this out right away.) Then you follow the FBI investigating a murdered Federal Judge who looks like he was corrupt. I love Grisham's discretion when the lawyer gets a makeover. I think you will too. I'll never forget that character.

The innocent lawyer finds out and is able to use this to get out of prison. That is when the
I hadn't read a John Grisham in quite awhile and had been meaning to read this so I picked it up. It was just meh. I mean, it was the kind of story where the plot just unraveled and nothing else happened. There was no climax. No omg moments---just a plan that used the whole book to describe its unwinding. (view spoiler) ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The Racketeer" is the best Grisham and one of the best crime/thrillers I have ever read. Written in an easy-to-read, straight-forward style, the plot mixes brilliant complexity and multiple surprises in a high-tension manner that doesn't end until the last page. That's all I can say, because to say more, even a single word, might interfere with the joy I think you will have experiencing this book for yourself.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Malcolm Bannister is a largely unsuccessful lawyer who was imprisoned by an overly aggressive government prosecutor when he accidentally turned his law firm into a shell company for a shady crook who needed to launder a lot of money. Two years in a minimum-security prison camp are sufficient to turn him from a struggling bungler into a mastermind, and the tangled web of deception he weaves begins when Bannister approaches the FBI with information that can help them solve the execution-style murd ...more
Teresa Crawford
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Grisham, you are back!!!!

You had me hooked from the first chapter. I felt like I was on a continuos road trip and the adventure was thrilling. I could almost see Bannister (main character) having a meeting at the George Washington Hotel or gossiping in one of the Old Towne coffee shops or at his office on Braddock Street in Winchester, VA (as this town is my home) so it was easy to visualize the places (New Market battlefield, Reston, Radford, Roanoke, Fairfax, DC, Frostburg) - it made it se
Una Tiers
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
My Grisham fan days are waxing and waning. The book begins with a meandering tale. It shifts into the story of the smartest man in the world, able to leap tall buildings and learn copious amounts of information in no time flat. The plot wasn't bad, but the pay per word spoiled things for me.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t read a John Grisham book in years, not since his most early works. I’m so glad I decided to read The Racketeer. It had me hooked from the first page and after that, well, I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough, keeping me up too late the last couple of nights.

The Racketeer is skilfully written, has a engaging story and plot, is nicely paced, has a really clever protagonist in Malcolm Bannister and lots of Feds, I love lots of Feds in a story like this! Gotta love those suits! This bo
Bethan Watson
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller-mystery
This is a mystery/suspense novel surrounding a wrongly accused lawyer (Malcolm Bannister) sent to prison for ten years. While in federal prison, he uses his legal knowledge to aide other prisoners with their current legal battles, looking for any loopholes to find them early release. When he meets fellow prisoner Quinn Rucker, everything changes for Malcolm.

I have been hearing about John Grisham books for quite a while now, so when I picked up this novel to begin reading I felt as if I was a lat
Nan Williams
Grisham has said that he writes his books to be read in one sitting. I believe this one was written in one sitting. He explained it well in his "author's note" at the end: "Almost nothing ... was based on reality. Research, hardly a priority, was rarely called upon. Accuracy was not deemed crucial. Long paragraphs of fiction were used to avoid looking up facts."

At 340 pages it's not a quick read, but I believe it was a quick "write." It's a very shallow book with very shallow characters. There's
Natalie Vellacott
Probably the most contemporary John Grisham book I've read, not really the better for it though.

The Racketeer is relayed partly in the first person which made for a nice change of pace at first. However, it ended up being quite slow. The story development and building of suspense took so long and was just centering on one main theme. There weren't the usual intricacies or the tangled web to be navigated by the reader.

Malcolm Bannister, a lawyer, found himself on the wrong side of the law when he
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Malcolm Bannister is halfway through a ten year prison sentence for money laundering, a crime he only technically and innocently committed. When a federal judge is murdered, he senses an opportunity to obtain his freedom, because he knows who committed the crime and why. Rules 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows for a prisoner to be pardoned or have their sentence reduced if they can solve another crime. His first challenge is getting the attention of the FBI, but eventually he ...more
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Grisham returns with another sensational book, whose time on the NYT Bestseller's list is no fluke. Filled with great plot, wonderful dialogue and detailed narration, the book pushes the legal genre to include jailhouse law and the skirting of it, in its many forms. Grisham, ever the masterful legal mind, as included angles with which I would have never associated 'the law' or legal writing, and does so in such a way that the reader can simple become an active observer in the journey. A little o ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Contemporary fiction has it easy. All of the backstory, including pieces of equipment, structure or organization, are pre-constructed and readily available. The story can be told with the milieu mostly already prepared. In contrast, in the fantasy and science fiction genres, all of these elements cannot be taken for granted and have to be built in the narrative. Hence, when one picks up a book such as this, the expectation is for a quicker read with not much work required to imagine the locales

Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
John Grisham is a genius. How many times can you re-tell the same story and get people to pay for it each time? Grisham has the secret formula. Here's Grisham's story checklist:

1. Small-town lawyer who was wronged by the Feds.
2. Lots of cash and shady off-shore banking.
3. Righting wrong against Feds (or evil corporations)
4. Bumbling Feds
5. Attractive woman who helps small-town lawyer

The Racketeer has everything in the Grisham story checklist, but somehow it seems different than The Firm, The Ass
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Median Gray
  • Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6)
  • Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy #3)
  • A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine #2)
  • Long Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine, #1)
  • The Night Fire (Harry Bosch, #22; Renée Ballard, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #32)
  • One Good Deed
  • The Forgotten (John Puller, #2)
  • Hear No Evil (Hidden Norfolk #5)
  • Gray Mountain: by John Grisham | Summary & Analysis
  • Redemption (Amos Decker, #5)
  • A Deep and Deadly Undertow (Garrison Gage #7)
  • The Gods of Guilt (Mickey Haller, #5; Harry Bosch Universe, #25)
  • The Hit (Will Robie, #2)
  • The Collectors (Camel Club, #2)
  • Blue Moon (Jack Reacher, #24)
  • The Reversal (Mickey Haller, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #21)
  • The Brass Verdict (Harry Bosch, #14; Mickey Haller, #2; Harry Bosch Universe, #18)
See similar books…
"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

Related Articles

The prolific and beloved author John Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, is back this month with a new pageturner, A Time for Mercy,...
33 likes · 6 comments
“I guess under the right circumstances, a man will do just about anything.” 20 likes
“How do you survive for years in prison? You don’t think about years, or months, or weeks. You think about today—how to get through it, how to survive it. When you wake up tomorrow, another day is behind you. The days add up; the weeks run together; the months become years. You realize how tough you are, how you can function and survive because you have no choice.” 8 likes
More quotes…