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The Rooster Bar, John Grisham, author; Ari Fliakos, narrator

The Rooster Bar - John Grisham

There are four very close friends, Gordie, Todd, Mark and Zola, who are disillusioned after attending a poorly rated law school. When Gordie commits suicide, the other three are at loose ends. Although they are about to graduate from this rotten school, they have no prospect of a job, and they can not repay their accumulated debts. They discover that their despondent, deceased friend had been doing research on a swindler who was connected to their school, their loans and several companies that were making money by enticing students with false promises of successful futures. It seems that most of the students were unqualified, unemployable, unprepared and unable to pass the bar upon graduation. Massive fraud was taking place under a legal umbrella.
Since their future seemed bleak, they decided to leave law school and begin their own fraudulent practice of law. In this way, the author seems to be attempting to show the corruption of our legal system and those involved in all aspects of it. The reader meets crooked lawyers, negligent judges, and there is certainly no shortage of criminals introduced, who are being taken advantage of by the system that is supposed to protect them. The fact that they have committed crimes is given little importance when compared to the impossible bureaucracy they are required to face.
After trying their hands at practicing law without licenses, being discovered and just managing to barely outrun the authorities, the three surviving friends decide to try another avenue. They go after the man who is at the top of the fraudulent scheme their friend uncovered. They seem very cavalier and unrealistic about the nature of their own fraudulent behavior, the danger they face and the consequences of their actions. They don’t seem to believe that they will ever be caught or held responsible for their actions, although they daily compound their wrongdoing.
At the same time as they are engaged in these criminal activities, one of the friends, whose family came into the United States illegally almost three decades ago, from Senegal, discovers that her family has been caught and is going to be deported. She is not in any danger, having been born in America. This part of the book proceeds to seemingly expose some of the many diverse problems in our immigration system, as the family is shipped back, unceremoniously, to a country that is corrupt and not only doesn’t want them back, but resents their return and is known for its brutality toward returning citizens.
The author admits that he has taken many liberties in his presentation, and I felt as if the book not only made a mockery of our government, its agencies, our lawyers and our immigration and justice system, a bit unfairly, but it also seemed to hold no criminal accountable for the behavior that got them into trouble. I felt as if it was only the system that was being judged rather than those who had become trapped within it through their own actions. It took on the feeling of a fairy tale without any prospect of the novel ever approaching reality. It also took forever for the book to make its point. Those who were victims of their own irresponsible behavior came out as the winners, unscathed by their heinous behavior. Poor behavior was rewarded and most of the characters had no character!