The Whistler: A Novel by John Grisham (Epub)



Ebook Info

  • Published: 2016
  • Number of pages: 470 pages
  • Format: Epub
  • File Size: 0.54 MB
  • Authors: John Grisham


We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity is the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the flow of justice. But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe?

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. It is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout United States history. And now he wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. When the case is assigned to Lacy, she immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

User’s Reviews

John Grisham is the author of twenty-nine novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and five novels for young readers.From the Hardcover edition. –This text refers to the paperback edition. Review “Riveting…finely drawn…The Whistler centers on an elaborate conspiracy involving an Indian reservation, an organized crime syndicate and a crooked judge skimming a small fortune from the tribal casino’s monthly haul.” –The New York Times Book Review “A main character who’s a seriously appealing woman…a whistle-blower who secretly calls attention to corruption…a strong and frightening sense of place…Grisham’s on his game.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times“A fascinating look at judicial corruption…an entirely convincing story and one of Grisham’s best. I can’t think of another major American novelist since Sinclair Lewis who has so effectively targeted social and political ills in our society. In Grisham’s case, it is time at least to recognize that at his best he is not simply the author of entertaining legal thrillers but an important novelistic critic of our society. In more than 30 novels, he has often used his exceptional storytelling skills to take a hard look at injustice and corruption in the legal world and in our society as a whole.”–Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post “Grisham’s latest involves the rich and powerful and an abuse of the justice system. Grisham novels are crowd-pleasers because he knows how to satisfy readers who want to see injustice crushed, and justice truly prevails for those who cannot buy influence.” –Associated Press “Grisham has become an institution. For more than 25 years now he’s been our guide to the byways and backwaters of our legal system, superb in particular at ferreting out its vulnerabilities and dramatizing their abuse in gripping style. He excels at describing injustice and corruption. Grisham’s legal knowledge is impressive, and his ability to convey it unparalleled in popular fiction.” –USA Today –This text refers to the paperback edition. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. 1The satellite radio was playing soft jazz, a compromise. Lacy, the owner of the Prius and thus the radio, loathed rap almost as much as Hugo, her passenger, loathed contemporary country. They had failed to agree on sports talk, public radio, golden oldies, adult comedy, and the BBC, without getting near bluegrass, CNN, opera, or a hundred other stations. Out of frustration on her part and fatigue on his, they both threw in the towel early and settled on soft jazz. Soft, so Hugo’s deep and lengthy nap would not be disturbed. Soft, because Lacy didn’t care much for jazz either. It was another give-and-take of sorts, one of many that had sustained their teamwork over the years. He slept and she drove and both were content.Before the Great Recession, the Board on Judicial Conduct had access to a small pool of state-owned Hondas, all with four doors and white paint and low mileage. With budget cuts, though, those disappeared. Lacy, Hugo, and countless other public employees in Florida were now expected to use their own vehicles for the state’s work, reimbursed at fifty cents a mile. Hugo, with four kids and a hefty mortgage, drove an ancient Bronco that could barely make it to the office, let alone a road trip. And so he slept.Lacy enjoyed the quiet. She handled most of her cases alone, as did her colleagues. Deeper cuts had decimated the office, and the BJC was down to its last six investigators. Seven, in a state of twenty million people, with a thousand judges sitting in six hundred courtrooms and processing a half a million cases a year. Lacy was forever grateful that almost all judges were honest, hardworking people committed to justice and equality. Otherwise, she would have left long ago. The small number of bad apples kept her busy fifty hours a week.She gently touched the signal switch and slowed on the exit ramp. When the car rolled to a stop, Hugo lurched forward as if wide awake and ready for the day. “Where are we?” he asked.“Almost there. Twenty minutes. Time for you to roll to your right and snore at the window.”“Sorry. Was I snoring?”“You always snore, at least according to your wife.”“Well, in my defense, I was walking the floor at three this morning with her latest child. I think it’s a girl. What’s her name?”“Wife or daughter?”“Ha‑ha.”The lovely and ever-pregnant Verna kept few secrets when it came to her husband. It was her calling to keep his ego in check and it was no small task. In another life, Hugo had been a football star in high school, then the top-rated signee in his class at Florida State, and the first freshman to crack the starting lineup. He’d been a tailback, both bruising and dazzling, for three and a half games anyway, until they carried him off on a stretcher with a jammed vertebra in his upper spine. He vowed to make a comeback. His mother said no. He graduated with honors and went to law school. His glory days were fading fast, but he would always carry some of the swagger possessed by all-Americans. He couldn’t help it.“Twenty minutes, huh?” he grunted.“Sure, or not. If you like, I’ll just leave you in the car with the motor running and you can sleep all day.” He rolled to his right, closed his eyes, and said, “I want a new partner.”“That’s an idea, but the problem is nobody else will have you.”“And one with a bigger car.”“It gets fifty miles a gallon.”He grunted again, grew still, then twitched, jerked, mumbled, and sat straight up. He rubbed his eyes and said, “What are we listening to?”“We had this conversation a long time ago, when we left Tallahassee, just as you were beginning to hibernate.”“I offered to drive, as I recall.”“Yes, with one eye open. It meant so much. How’s Pippin?”“She cries a lot. Usually, and I say this from vast experience, when a newborn cries it’s for a reason. Food, water, diaper, momma–whatever. Not this one. She squawks for the hell of it. You don’t know what you’re missing.”“If you’ll recall, I’ve actually walked the floors with Pippin on two occasions.”“Yes, and God bless you. Can you come over tonight?”“Anytime. She’s number four. You guys thought about birth control?”“We are beginning to have that conversation. And now that we’re on the subject, how’s your sex life?”“Sorry. My mistake.” At thirty-six Lacy was single and attractive, and her sex life was a rich source of whispered curiosity around the office.They were going east toward the Atlantic Ocean. St. Augustine was eight miles ahead. Lacy finally turned off the radio when Hugo asked, “And you’ve been here before?”“Yes, a few years back. Then boyfriend and I spent a week on the beach in a friend’s condo.”“A lot of sex?”“Here we go again. Is your mind always in the gutter?”“Well, come to think of it, the answer has to be yes. Plus, you need to understand that Pippin is now a month old, which means that Verna and I have not had normal relations in at least three months. I still maintain, at least to myself, that she cut me off three weeks too early, but it’s sort of a moot point. Can’t really go back and catch up, you know? So things are fairly ramped up in my corner; not sure she feels the same way. Three rug rats and a newborn do serious damage to that intimacy thing.”“I’ll never know.”He tried to focus on the highway for a mile or two, then his eyelids grew heavy and he began to nod. She glanced at him and smiled. In her nine years with the Board, she and Hugo had worked a dozen cases together. They made a nice team and trusted each other, and both knew that any bad behavior by him, and there had been none to date, would immediately be reported to Verna. Lacy worked with Hugo, but she gossiped and shopped with Verna.St. Augustine was billed as the oldest city in America, the very spot where Ponce de León landed and began exploring. Long on history and heavy on tourism, it was a lovely town with historic buildings and thick Spanish moss dripping from ancient oaks. As they entered its outskirts, the traffic slowed and tour buses stopped. To the right and in the distance, an old cathedral towered above the town. Lacy remembered it all very well. The week with the old boyfriend had been a disaster, but she had fond memories of St. Augustine.One of many disasters.“And who is this mysterious deep throat we are supposed to meet?” Hugo asked, rubbing his eyes once again, now determined to stay awake.“Don’t know yet, but his code name is Randy.”“Okay, and please remind me why we are tag teaming a secret meeting with a man using an alias who has yet to file a formal complaint against one of our esteemed judges.”“I can’t explain. But I’ve talked to him three times on the phone and he sounds, uh, rather earnest.”“Great. When was the last time you talked to a complaining party who didn’t sound, uh, rather earnest?”“Stick with me, okay? Michael said go, and we’re here.” Michael was the director, their boss.“Of course. No clue as to the alleged unethical conduct?”“Oh yes. Randy said it was big.”“Gee, never heard that before.”They turned onto King Street and poked along with the downtown traffic. It was mid-July, still the high season in north Florida, and tourists in shorts and sandals drifted along the sidewalks, apparently going nowhere. Lacy parked on a side street and they joined the tourists. They found a coffee shop and killed half an hour flipping through glossy real estate brochures. At noon, as instructed, they walked into Luca’s Grill and got a table for three. They ordered iced tea and waited. Thirty minutes passed with no sign of Randy, so they ordered sandwiches. Fries on the side for Hugo, fruit for Lacy. Eating as slowly as possible, they kept an eye on the door and waited.As lawyers, they valued their time. As investigators, they had learned patience. The two roles were often in conflict.At 2:00 p.m., they gave up and returned to the car, as smothering as a sauna. As Lacy turned the key, her cell phone rattled. Caller unknown. She grabbed it and said, “Yes.”A male voice said, “I asked you to come alone.” It was Randy.“I suppose you have the right to ask. We were supposed to meet at noon, for lunch.”A pause, then, “I’m at the Municipal Marina, at the end of King Street, three blocks away. Tell your buddy to get lost and we’ll talk.”“Look, Randy, I’m not a cop and I don’t do cloak-and-dagger very well. I’ll meet you, say hello and all that, but if I don’t have your real name within sixty seconds then I’m leaving.”“Fair enough.”She canceled the call and mumbled, “Fair enough.” The marina was busy with pleasure craft and a few fishing boats coming and going. A long pontoon was unloading a gaggle of noisy tourists. A restaurant with a patio at the water’s edge was still doing a brisk business. Crews on charter boats were spraying decks and sprucing things up for tomorrow’s charters.Lacy walked along the central pier, looking for the face of a man she’d never met. Ahead, standing next to a fuel pump, an aging beach bum gave a slight, awkward wave and nodded. She returned the nod and kept walking. He was about sixty, with too much gray hair flowing from under a Panama hat. Shorts, sandals, a gaudy floral-print shirt, the typical bronze, leathery skin of someone who spent far too much time in the sun. His eyes were covered by aviator shades. With a smile he stepped forward and said, “You must be Lacy Stoltz.”She took his hand and said, “Yes, and you are?”“Name’s Ramsey Mix. A pleasure to meet you.”“A pleasure. We were supposed to meet at noon.”“My apologies. Had a bit of boat trouble.” He nodded down the pier to a large powerboat moored at the end of the dock. It wasn’t the longest boat in the harbor at that moment, but it was close. “Can we talk there?” he asked.“On the boat?”“Sure. It’s much more private.”Crawling onto a boat with a complete stranger struck her as a bad idea and she hesitated. Before she could answer, Mix asked, “Who’s the black guy?” He was looking in the direction of King Street. Lacy turned and saw Hugo casually following a pack of tourists nearing the marina.“He’s my colleague,” she said.“Sort of a bodyguard?”“I don’t need a bodyguard, Mr. Mix. We’re not armed, but my friend there could pitch you into the water in about two seconds.”“Let’s hope that won’t be necessary. I come in peace.”“That’s good to hear. I’ll get on the boat only if it stays where it is. If the engines start, then our meeting is over.”“Fair enough.”She followed him along the pier, past a row of sailboats that looked as though they had not seen the open sea in months, and to his boat, cleverly named Conspirator. He stepped on board and offered a hand to help her. On the deck, under a canvas awning, there was a small wooden table with four folding chairs. He waved at it and said, “Welcome aboard. Have a seat.”Lacy took quick stock of her surroundings. Without sitting, she said, “Are we alone?”“Well, not entirely. I have a friend who enjoys boating with me. Name is Carlita. Would you like to meet her?”“Only if she’s important to your story.”“She is not.” Mix was looking at the marina, where Hugo was leaning on a rail. Hugo waved, as if to say, “I’m watching everything.” Mix waved back and said, “Can I ask you something?”“Sure,” Lacy said.“Is it safe to assume that whatever I’m about to tell you will be rehashed with Mr. Hatch in short order?”“He’s my colleague. We work together on some cases, maybe this one. How do you know his name?”“I happen to own a computer. Checked out the website. BJC really should update it.”“I know. Budget cuts.”“His name vaguely rings a bell.”“He had a brief career as a football player at Florida State.”“Maybe that’s it. I’m a Gator fan myself.”Lacy refused to respond to this. It was so typical of the South, where folks attached themselves to college football teams with a fanaticism she’d always found irksome.Mix said, “So he’ll know everything?”“Yes.”“Call him over. I’ll get us something to drink.” 2Carlita served drinks from a wooden tray–diet sodas for Lacy and Hugo, a bottle of beer for Mix. She was a pretty Hispanic lady, at least twenty years his junior, and she seemed pleased to have guests, especially another woman.Lacy made a note on her legal pad and said, “A quick question. The phone you used fifteen minutes ago had a different number than the phone you used last week.”“Is that a question?” Mix replied.“It’s close enough.”“Okay. I use a lot of prepaid phones. And I move around all the time. I’m assuming the number I have for you is a cell phone issued by your employer, correct?”“That’s right. We don’t use personal phones for state business, so my number is not likely to change.”“That’ll make it simpler, I guess. My phones change by the month, sometimes by the week.”So far, in their first five minutes together, everything Mix said had only opened the door for more questions. Lacy was still miffed at being stood up for lunch, and she didn’t like the first impression he made. She said, “Okay, Mr. Mix, at this point Hugo and I go silent. You start talking. Tell us your story, and if it has huge gaps that require us to fish around and stumble in the dark, then we’ll get bored and go home. You were coy enough on the phone to lure me here. Start talking.”Mix looked at Hugo with a smile and asked, “She always this blunt?”Hugo, unsmiling, nodded yes. He folded his hands on the table and waited. Lacy put down her pen.Mix swallowed a mouthful of beer and began: “I practiced law for thirty years in Pensacola. Small firm–we usually had five or six lawyers. Back in the day we did well and life was good. One of my early clients was a developer, a real high roller who built condos, subdivisions, hotels, strip malls, the typical Florida stuff that goes up overnight. I never trusted the guy but he was making so much money I finally took the bait. He got me in some deals, small slices here and there, and for a while it all worked. I started dreaming of getting rich, which, in Florida anyway, can lead to serious trouble. My friend was cooking the books and taking on way too much debt, stuff I didn’t know about. Turns out there were some bogus loans, bogus everything, really, and the FBI came in with one of its patented RICO cluster bombs and indicted half of Pensacola, me included. A lot of folks got burned–developers, bankers, realtors, lawyers, and other shysters. You probably didn’t hear about it because you investigate judges, not lawyers. Anyway, I flipped, sang like a choirboy, got a deal, pled to one count of mail fraud, and spent sixteen months in a federal camp. Lost my license and made a lot of enemies. Now I lie low. I applied for reinstatement and got my license back. I have one client these days, and he’s the guy we’ll talk about from now on. Questions?” From the empty chair, he retrieved an unmarked file and handed it to Lacy. “Here’s the scoop on me. Newspaper articles, my plea agreement, all the stuff you might need. I’m legit, or as legit an any ex-con can be, and every word I’m saying is true.” –This text refers to the paperback edition. Read more

Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:

⭐ I am a Grisham fan but this is not his best work. If there is such a thing, I would call this a boring page-turner. You keep turning the pages expecting it to get better but then you get to the end and realize—that was it. I mean it has all the nuts and bolts of a solidly written piece of fiction but there is just no spark to it, nothing clever or surprising. After I’d turned all the pages, I blinked several times and turned off my kindle – surprised that it was over because it never quite got off the ground. The characters are one-dimensional and there is no real connection to them. Like the heroine in Gray Mountain, the female lead in this book is totally vanilla. You’re not rooting for her or against her as there is little depth or character development.* some spoilersThe plot is laid out early in the book – there is a corrupt judge colluding with some thugs to skim money at an Indian casino. To expose the corruption, there are a few individuals trying to blow the whistle on the judge to collect cash under the whistle-blower statutes. The whistle-blowers submit a complaint to the agency that investigates rogue judges and an investigation begins. These facts are known early on. The problem is – that’s the entire plot. There are no twists or turns it goes in a fairly straight line from corruption complaint to indictments with few surprises along the way. There is also a huge loose end as we never find out what happens to one of the characters who was falsely imprisoned for murders he did not commit. Since this character is a main focus in the prequel, the failure to tie up that loose end is irritating.All in all – it is just an uneven effort. A disappointing novel from an author from whom we all expect better.

⭐ I was surprised by the negative reviews on this book. I thought it was a very good read, suspenseful, legally interesting and I liked the characters very much. I had trouble putting it down when I needed to. I did think the main female character was much more impressive in her handling of the case than she seemed to give herself and her department credit for. I think she could move on to bigger things. I have read several of Grisham’s novels but wouldn’t call myself a huge fan. I usually don’t like the characters enough to really care. Previously my favorite was The Firm, but I remember feeling the ending was rushed. I actually liked The Whistler better than most of his books…liking the characters better really helped a lot, but I also liked the way the story transpired over time. It did not feel rushed and played out in a more realistic manner to me. With some books, I like conversation, but if the narration goes on too long, I get bored and start to skim, that was not the case in this book…even though there was a lot of narration at the end, by that time I was so interested in the story that I read every word as I couldn’t wait to see how it would all work out.

⭐ I bought this on CD to listen to in the car when my husband and I go out. I have been a fan of John Grisham for a long time and have always been pleased with his stories. This time, not so much. I found it to be very boring and didn’t really care about any of the characters. It was a bit confusing to me as it seemed to jump around a lot and there were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping up. I chalked some of this up to listening in spurts, but still, it was so dull that there were times, we didn’t even turn it on while driving. I kept thinking, this is John Grisham, it will get better. Unfortunately, it didn’t and I was relieved to be done with it.

⭐ I had to check several times to verify that this book really was written by John Grisham. The narrative is awkward, the dialogue, stiff and unnatural. At best, the story moved along like a cheaply produced TV series, one that is cancelled after six episodes. Grisham loads the story with too much extraneous information. It’s as if he was being paid by the word. The epilogue alone reads like a highly detailed police report. I once worked for a law enforcement organization and am familiar with the style–which is perfectly appropriate for police reports but not in a novel.None of the characters are particularly likable. The principal character, Lacy Stolz, comes across as flat and uninteresting. The bad guys are phlegmatic, bland, and dull, even though they are described as serious criminals involved in organized crime. There is absolutely no suspense to keep you going. Where is the author of “The Firm” and “A Time to Kill?” These early books were true page turners with great characterization and captivating plots. The plot of the “The Whistler” is plausible, but the story as written is as dry as dust.

⭐ Now, I know: when in doubt, pick up a John Grisham novel! Over the years, I guess Mr. Grisham has become my preferred comfort read author. Regardless of the premise, I feel secure that the legal matters will be accurate and that I will learn something; as for THE WHISTLER, it was, to say the least, illuminating. His greatest quality, I think, is his writing which I know never disappoints: Mr. Grisham has no literary tics. Stylistically he’s impeccable: his prose flows seamlessly, his pacing is flawless; he’s a superb storyteller who knows how to hold his audience captive and does not bungle the conclusion. And he writes great characters, in this case, Gunther, Lacy’s brother, is a giant although a minor character! THE WHISTLER is heavy and intense and Gunther provides much welcome levity at very dramatic times.THE WHISTLER is utterly compelling from beginning to end. The story is tightly plotted and it’s full speed ahead for the duration of the ride. I have nothing more to add other than this is a spectacular novel and anyone who likes legal thrillers and/or John Grisham ought to read this book.

⭐ In my opinion, as along time reader of probably all of John Grisham’s books, this one just did not measure up to the others. I kept reading it because I had purchased it. It lacked the suspense of the author’s other novels. I am sorry to say I did not like it at all.

⭐ Hard to believe this was a Grisham novel. I haven’t heard about him renting out his name to other writers a la Clancy, Patterson, etc so apparently he just sleep walked through writing this for another payday. I’ll definitely pay more attention to the reviews before buying next time, and hopefully Mr Grisham puts a little more effort into his work. Have some pride, John, about what gets published under your name! I know at this point in your career and with all your fame you get paid a lot either way, but you are really tarnishing your legacy with this schlock!

⭐ THE WHISTLER by John Grisham is a story about Florida’s Indian casinos and organized crime involving a crooked circuit court judge who allows fraud and chicanery to take place in exchange for a lucrative cut of the casino action. The venue for the story is the panhandle of Florida. Indian casinos pay no federal tax so it is easy to see how corruption takes place. An anonymous whistle-blower feeds illicit information to a third party then to an obscure, five-person state organization titled The Board of Judicial Conduct. The BJC wields little power but has a successful batting average for weeding out corruption in the state’s legal profession. The story’s protagonist, Lacy Stoltz, is a smart and tenacious lawyer with a sense of humor and a ready wit. Lacy makes the story exciting. Indian casinos in the last few decades have become ubiquitous in almost every state. They have been good and bad for the Native American Nations. Good from the standpoint of lowering the poverty rate, bad because of the idleness they create—free money. We see more troubled families, more alcoholism and more youth on drugs. Indians make their own laws. They govern themselves. Neither the state or federal governments have much to say of how they govern. The first sixty percent of the story is compelling, then it seems to deteriorate into an indictment-led narrative that becomes a bit boring. The author develops his characters well with an array of engaging secondary characters who pop up intermittently and add color. The novel is pretty much surprise-free. I did enjoy the story. I give The Whistler a 4-star rating, not Grisham’s best, but worth the read.

⭐ Many of the reviews remark that this is not Grisham’s best work and while that may be true, this author’s lesser efforts are always much better than most other writers’ best work. While this novel may not be up there with his best and while it is not a roller coaster ride of excitement, I still found it to be an engrossing, enjoyable reading experience. I particularly found the information about Native American Indians very interesting as it applied to the plot. This is not a convoluted, pretentious thriller that requires the reader to constantly flip back through the pages to try to remember characters or incidents…it is straight forward story telling — something which Mr. Grisham has always excelled at. One of the reader’s reviews commented that the end of the book left him with a smile on his face and I agree. After too many endings that leave us confused or wondering what just happened, it was a real treat to read a clear, concise finale. Even the fact that one character’s future is left unaddressed, I felt that was because as a result of the satisfyingly complete ending, the reader assumes this character’s situation will be resolved accordingly.

⭐ I have read many of Grisham’s novels and always appreciate his legal knowledge and expertise. I studied whistleblower statutes and cases in law school and love the combination of their complexity and simplicity. This story was one I really liked at first simply because of that content. Some readers may have been turned off by the explanations of the legal and criminal issues, but I ate it right up. I was definitely stunned and unhappy to have a character I was beginning to care about summarily bumped off at about the 20% point, but kept on reading because I just kept wanting to find out what happened next. Such is Grisham’s skill and talent. I appreciate the detailed epilogue at the end with respect to the various bad guys and the main good guys. Not enough in court scenes for me but still enough action and character development to keep me reading. Well deserved 4 stars.


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