Author: John Grisham
Published By: Bantam Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I’ve read a number of John Grisham novels and always been happy with them. In fact, quite recently, I wondered to myself why it is that I haven’t read more of his works. I decided to remedy that situation and, when I saw Rogue Lawyer on sale at the local Barnes and Noble, I had to pick it up.
Written in the first person point of view, Rogue Lawyer introduces us to Sebastian Rudd, a street lawyer who most often works as a defense attorney in cases no one else will touch. As we read the novel, we realize that Mr. Rudd is a flawed man with a lot going on in his personal and professional life. In addition to the lengths he will go to in order to get the right verdict for his client, Rudd also hangs out in the wrong crowds of people and dabbles in illegal gambling, has tremendous issues with his ex-wife, some stemming from the fact that she divorced him to be with her female lover, and he’s not the best father one could ask for.
We start off with Rudd’s first shocking case – defending a brain-damaged eighteen-year-old charged with the murder of two little girls. Rudd has worked with guilty defendants before, but in this case, he believes Gardy Baker when he tells Rudd he is innocent. This makes Rudd fight even harder for his client. The next case is a no-win situation involving a self-made mob boss on death row. In this case, Rudd tries everything he can, but nothing can prevent his client from facing that final penalty for his crimes…or maybe there is something. This case doesn’t quite end the way we expect it will, but it is rather entertaining to read.
Next is a police home invasion gone wrong. Doug and Kitty Renfro were asleep in their house in a quiet neighborhood, when a SWAT team breaks down the doors and enters. Believing his home is being invaded by bad guys, Mr. Renfro gets out his gun, tells his wife to call the cops and ends up firing at his intruders. His wife is killed, Doug is shot and the police are charging him for shooting at them. But the real problem is that the police had the wrong house. The low-level drug dealer they were searching for did not live there, nor did he warrant such an intense entrance. Sebastian Rudd must not only prove his client’s innocence, he must also prove that the SWAT team used excessive force when entering the home and subsequently killing Kitty Renfro.
All along, Rudd is sitting side-seat as co-investor in a cage fighter named Tadeo Zapate. He’s making his investment back and then some, when Tadeo gets into a Main Event battle. Unfortunately, in a bad judges’ decision, Tadeo loses. That’s when Rudd regrets his decision to back this fighter…and to bring his kid to a fight in which his investment sucker punches the victor and then beats the pulp out of the referee. When the ref succumbs to his injuries and Tadeo is brought up on murder charges, Rudd tries to get Tadeo a deal, but Tadeo wants freedom with no jail time. What can Rudd do with a case in which the moment of the referee’s death has circulated the internet hundreds of times with a video viewed by thousands?
And in the midst of Rudd pulling his hair out with his uncooperative client/investment, Rudd is approached by a man who has information regarding a missing girl…the daughter of a high-ranking police official. When this man, who wants Rudd to be his lawyer, hints at a human trafficking ring he may be a part of, what will Rudd’s conscience tell him to do?
One of the things I love most about John Grisham’s novels is that the protagonist is always someone who has flaws. If the character was perfect, I’m sure I wouldn’t have interest in the book, but with a flawed character…a more human character that one can relate to…the book becomes that much more interesting. Rogue Lawyer peaked my interest because it didn’t just focus on one case. This book contained multiple cases…sort of an anthology of stories featuring the same main character. That changed things up a bit, so you weren’t stuck in one case, but in a variety of cases featuring innocent and guilty in differing scenarios.
The ending of Rogue Lawyer left something to be desired…it was almost not an ending, leaving me to believe that this book may be the starting point for an actual series starring Sebastian Rudd. In that case, I would applaud the ending and look forward to reading more of Rudd’s exploits. I definitely had fun reading Rogue Lawyer and would love to read more featuring this flawed-yet-supportable character that makes you want to root for his side.