Book review: Camino Island

Camino Island

Reading and learning new things about the publishing world has been a great interest of mine, as it should be for all book nerds, for a while now. And it might not come out as a surprise that I love a thriller and the good ol’ chase. How would it be if these were combined in a single book? Presenting the Camino Island from none other than the king of legal drama, John Grisham and it takes place in the literary world (yay!). Lets get on with it, shall we?

Book Name: Camino Island
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction – Thriller;
Characters: Mercer Mann, Bruce Cable, Denny, Jerry, Mark, Trey, Ahmed, Elaine Shelby
Setting: Florida, The USA

A five member gang pulls a heist at the Princeton’s Firestone library and takes off with the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original manuscripts. The FBI successfully nabs two of the five men and the others rush into hiding with their loot.

When they hear the manuscripts are about to turn up at the Camino Island, an (imaginary) island near Florida (I looked up) they send in Mercer Mann as an undercover agent to spy on their prime suspect Bruce Cable. Mercer is a currently unemployed teacher and a struggling writer/novelist who had a grandmother on the island, while Bruce is a bookstore owner and a patron for several authors who regularly visit Camino Island as a publicity hop.

Mercer also gets to Bruce’s colorful life with his literary friends and his wife, and tries to find inspiration for her work. Was Bruce really the bad one? Did they recover the manuscripts and how? You should read Camino Island to find out.

While it has been a few years since I read Grisham’s books, I have loved his legal thrillers and have been a true Grisham fan. And that is one of the main reasons I picked this book up when I saw it on the Amazon’s top sellers. But Camino Island seemed nothing like those high tension dramas, even with the awesome literary characters.

Bruce is the ultimate bad boy dream come true. He has amazing friends, loads of money, and a wife whom he is in an open relationship with. Who am I kidding? Let us get real – Who cares about those stuff? He owns a bookstore and reads a LOT and has so many author friends. Seriously he is the dream. Oh did I say that he is the bad guy (or is he?) and dabbles occasionally with the illegal, black market and literally a book thief. Woohoo!

Mercer was an aspiring writer who has not submitted her manuscript to her publisher in the past three years and is recently laid off from her teaching position. With million dollars at stake, she is pushed to playing amateur sleuth.

Camino Island

Camino Island

Camino Island has some interesting characters but what fails for me is that it turned out from a thriller to a romance novel midway. How am I supposed to take that from John Grisham himself? I have come to expect too much out of him to read a ‘good girl falls for the bad boy‘ from him.

The heist itself kinda fell short for me (and it comes up in the first few chapters) but it didn’t deter me from hoping Grisham’s writing will salvage it. But after the part where Mercer comes in and ‘falls for Bruce’ it didn’t even sound like Grisham anymore. I was sorely disappointed in the plot and the writing part.

The saving grace was that I was reading about the literary world, independent writers, and retail booksellers, though the excitement ran thin soon. I have learnt my lessons about having high expectations. I am going to go back to reading some of Grisham’s good ones from the yesteryears.

If you can dive into it without any huge expectations based on John Grisham’s older legal thrillers, you might enjoy Camino Island as a quick read at the beach or for your book club.



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