My friend and I decided to start a book club, which was definitely inspired by watching the movie “Book Club” (a fun and hilarious film). We decided our very first book would be “Camino Island” by John Grisham. A man who has written over forty books with a collective 275 million copies sold worldwide, Grisham has certain staked his claim in the world of literature. In this book review blog post, both my friend and I will be taking you through our own thoughts and feelings towards the book.
“Camino Island” is eight chapter crime fiction thriller written about a heist that leads to the theft of the five original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald. From that point forward you are taken on a story of recovery that all takes place on the beachy shores of Camino Island. At the heart of the story you are introduced to Bruce Cable, a self-made man with a womanizing personality who owns a fabulous bookstore, and Mercer Mann, a washed up writer who goes undercover for a mysterious company searching for the missing manuscripts. A tale of intrigue, deception, and lots of drinking, this book is fast passed and to the point.
At the heart of this story is a great plot that would intrigue any reader because it deals specifically with authors, bookstores, and first edition books of the most expensive value. For those who are especially fond of the F. Scott Fitzgerald books, this novel would be doubly interesting. However, I was not captivated by this particular book at any point in the eight chapters and thought the ending to be pretty predictable.
I found it odd that the main character we were supposed to be rooting for was introduced in chapter three which was 59 pages into the book. And the characters you were originally introduced to in the first chapter, the thieves, disappeared for most of the book and often changed names because of their false identities which made it slightly confusing for myself. The writing itself was not what I expected for one of the most famous authors of our time, it seemed unnatural when working through dialogue and much too telling (which would be the difference between saying “she was hungry” and “Her stomach growled”) when dealing with description.
Overall, I was not impressed with the writing and would be interested in reading one of Grisham’s other novels to see if there was any possibility of a ghostwriter for this particular book. Right from the beginning I was not captivated by the story and could have put it down at any point without regret of never picking it back up.
Rating: Two Stars
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The plot held a lot of promise in the beginning but in the end was somewhat disappointing. At first I enjoyed the simple but direct writing style that would be trademark of a lawyer turned author, but towards the end the style became almost childish. I strongly believe this was written by a ghost writer given Gresham’s well known critical acclaim.
The first 5 chapters or so had me captivated. I loved the way it was broken into sections (The Heist, The Dealer, The Recruit, The Facilitator, etc.) like a lawyer giving the details of a case. The book took a turn for the worse in writing style and plot when everything became predictable and the fate of the criminal ultimately disappoints. He is meant to be seen as a “charming man” and in some sense an underdog, but I personally had a hard time seeing him as such. Possibly due to poor writing. As for the “heroine”, in the end she is not someone as a character I feel like any real woman can support.
The plot was interesting enough (until the predictable ending) to keep me happily reading and not feel miserable trying to finish it. There was also a side story that was ultimately unfinished and would have made the book more interesting had it been further explained. I am hoping it will be in the sequel, “Camino Winds”. The hopes of reading further into said unfinished side story is enough to make me want to read the sequel.
Rating: Two and A Half Stars
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Until Next Time,