Rogue Lawyer, John Grisham, author, Mark Deakins, narrator
Sebastian Rudd is the rogue lawyer who defends hard to defend plaintiffs, plaintiffs that most lawyers reject. Once married to a woman who left him for another woman, he is the father of a second grader. His ex-wife, Judith, is also a lawyer in a lesbian firm, and she comes to his aid when he pushes the envelope and winds up in jail himself, as he attempts to defend his clients, clients he believes are entitled to a fair shake, no matter how heinous their crime. However, in all other matters Judith is his enemy, constantly suing him for custody of their child, a child she always refers to as hers.
The book is about a series of his cases involving murder, drugs, kidnapping, bribery, the mentally unstable, the guilty and the innocent, and all are among a gamut of other crimes, as well. It plods along without too much excitement as it exposes the corruption and incompetence that exists within the legal system. The variety of cases are interesting and from those he describes, one has to come away with the uncomfortable feeling that the entire justice system is not only blind, but it is also rife with smoke and mirrors, easily hijacked by dishonesty and very easily bought by different players.
The book is vintage Grisham as it is clear and concise as it dissects the dishonesty in our world with all of its warts and foibles. If you believe the author’s presentation, everyone has a price, and everyone has the capacity to be dishonest: the cops, the lawyers, the judges, the wardens, the guards, and the criminals. It is hard to know which one is the worst of the bunch!
Rudd is not likeable since he thinks nothing of defrauding the system he is sworn to uphold. He wears his politics on his sleeve and uses his disgust with the injustices of the system to stretch the rules himself. The cases that the author has chosen to highlight most probably are used to expose his own beliefs about law enforcement, the jury system, the expert witnesses, the lawyers, the business world, and the thugs. Since he was once a practicing lawyer, one has to assume he knows from whence he speaks so that even when a story seems implausible, the reader has to pause and question their incredulity. Grisham must have witnessed variations of these miscarriages of the justice system in person.
Grisham makes it feel like the courtroom is almost a venue for entertainment, where lawyers perform, and justice be damned! Politically, the views lean heavily to the left. The narrator did an admirable job, although there were times when the dialogue was confusing as one or another character spoke in the same tone of voice. This book is a great beach read, so pack a bag, toss it in, and go on your way.