About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Whistler by John Grisham

The Whistler by John Grisham – As usual Grisham had me hooked me in the opening pages. Once again he has created a fascinating lawyer in Lacy Stoltz, a staff lawyer with the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. I have always found his strength to be his lawyers.

The Board investigates complaints against Florida judges. Much of their time is spent investigating complaints concerning judges who have personal issues that have rendered them incapable of judging properly. One of her current investigations is a judge whose alcoholism is affecting him on the bench. However, the allegations sometimes involve corruption.

Lacy and another staff lawyer, Hugo Hatch, drive to St. Augustine to meet a mysterious source who claims to have information on a corrupt judge on a vast scale. While skeptical the claim is overblown they have agreed to the meeting. 

They meet Ramsey Mix, who has changed his name to Greg Myer, at a marina. A disbarred lawyer, Myer, has regained his licence to practise law. He is acting as an intermediary for a go-between who is representing a “mole” who has information on a circuit court judge in northern Florida. 

None of the trio is altruistic. They expect to gain millions under Florida’s Whistleblower statute which pays informants who provide information that allows the State to recover illicit funds. At the same time the trio is very wary convinced that their lives are in danger if identified. 

While the arrangement is convoluted Lacy and Hugo get enough from Myer to proceed with an investigation. 

They soon learn that the judge is Claudia McDover and the corruption involves a casino owned by the small Tappacola Indian Tribe. Though the Tappacolas are modest in number the casino is a gusher of money. Each member of the tribe, excepting married women who receive half the regular amount, is paid a monthly dividend of $5,000. 

The investigators wonder how McDover could be corruptly involved. The casino is on an Indian reservation with its own tribal court. Neither McDover nor the State of Florida have any jurisdiction on the reservation. The Federal Government has actually little interest in what is happening on the reservation.

McDover’s role comes from her position in the county adjacent to the reservation. She has a perfect record of deciding in favour of developers building golf courses, condos and other developments. She can also disrupt the casino for she has the authority to deal with issues involving the toll highway which is the only access to the casino. 

The judicial corruption is connected to a shadowy group of developers. Myer advises they are the descendants of the Catfish Mafia, a loosely organized crime gang, which has moved to Florida and evolved into the Coast Mafia. Such is their discretion they are but a rumour to legal authorities. 

Can Lacy and Hugo penetrate the carefully constructed web that conceals the corruption? 

The conspiracy reminded me of Grisham’s book, The Firm, which was set in Memphis and involved a Chicago crime family. 

I regret there is no action in a court. While I do admire his willingness to not restrict his stories to trials and appeals I prefer Grisham’s books involving court cases. 

I enjoyed the book and was glad it was not one of his books with an overtly political point of view but it is not one of Grisham’s best.  

There is a flaw in the story in that there are so few people who could be the “Deep Throat” source. In the Watergate scandal the source was never identified until he revealed himself because there were so many possible informants. 

More troubling was the last third of the book. It was an unfolding of the inevitable. While I deplore implausible twists there was no effective drama to conclude the book. For the first time in a long time I felt Grisham was just writing a narrative in that portion of the book. It was a letdown. 

I do appear to be in a minority on Grisham’s latest books. In the New York Times there was a glowing review of The Whistler and the Times thought The Whistler far better than Rogue Lawyer. I disagree. I consider Rogue Lawyer much better than The Whistler
 Grisham, John – (2000) - The Brethren; (2001) - A Painted House; (2002) - The Summons; (2003) - The King of Torts; (2004) - The Last Juror; (2005) - The Runaway Jury; (2005) - The Broker; (2008) - The Appeal; (2009) - The Associate; (2011) - The Confession; (2011) - The Litigators; (2012) - "G" is for John Grisham - Part I and Part II; (2013) - The Racketeer; (2013) - Grisham's Lawyers; (2013) - Analyzing Grisham's Lawyers; (2013) - Sycamore Row; (2014) - Gray Mountain and Gray Mountain and Real Life Legal Aid; (2015) - Rogue Lawyer and Sebastian Rudd;


  1. Thanks, as ever, Bill, for your candor. I agree with you that Grisham's court scenes are memorable. The premise of this story is really intriguing, so I'm sorry to hear that the promise wasn't really fulfilled. Still, it sounds as though there are some well-drawn characters, and that counts for a lot.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The characters are wonderful but Grisham could do better on the plot.

  2. Your thoughts on this book are very interesting, Bill. I still have several books by Grisham that I haven't read yet. I will try harder in 2017 to actually get to them.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. With at least a book a year by Grisham it is easy to end up with a TBR pile of his books.

  3. Like Tracy, I am way behind! I like Grisham when I read him though. I think I would try Rogue Lawyer next, based on your reviews.

  4. Moira: Good choice. I look forward to your thoughts.