Some time ago, a friend handed me a copy of John Grisham's book, The Partner. She had purchased the book for $1, read it, and sent it my way.
I'm not a big fan of John Grisham. For one thing, the legal thriller isn't really my genre. I usually wind up hating all the characters, finding the story ridiculously implausible, and I get bored with the legal details. If I am going to go the legal thrilller route, I much prefer someone like Scott Turow, who at least has some real writing skills, though I find his need to show legal authenticism goes a bit overboard.
This weekend was a perfect setting for reading The Partner. I had just read John Grisham's post hurricane op-ed piece "The Gulf Will Rise Again" at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/opinion/25Grisham.html?hp
What better time than to read a Grisham work, which inevitably would take place in New Orleans, Biloxi, etc?
Then I read the book... and I remembered that Grisham's Mississippi (and Louisiana) is one big bastion of severe corruption - permeating throughout the entire legal system. Lawyers, judges, politicians, law enforcement.
Obviously, this is fiction. Nonetheless, the 'old boys network' that was the legal system in this region is very real. Grisham may pay homage to Biloxi and the places of his boyhood in the Times op-ed. But that doesn't really 'undo' the pages and pages of writing (based on some kernels of truth) devoted to a history of corruption in this region. I don't doubt that Grisham has real personal attachment to the places he is writing about. It's just a bizarre combination to read, because his writing isn't very complimentary to the region.
WARNING!!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Beyond that, the 'surprise' ending makes very little sense, based on how Grisham had crafted the characters. The timing when/how Eva bails is not consistent with any understanding of her - not as well-intentioned woman spooked by the FBI, nor as an evil schemer planning from the get-go. I can't say I was surprised, because I was suspicious of the money arrangement to begin with - but perhaps because I WAS suspicious, I spent more time looking for clues along the read. And there is just no good explanation for Eva's character/motivation from page 1 to the end.