We gathered up a stack of books to drop off at a nearby library’s used book room. Among them: The Reversal, a recently published crime thriller by the great Michael Connelly. We had purchased it only a few months ago and read it straight through. One gulp. The last word on the last page had barely finished resonating before we stuck the bestseller on a shelf and returned to the grim demands of daily life.
Until this morning when it came off that shelf (where we found it next to Grisham’s The Confession) we had not given The Reversal a moment’s thought. We’d forgotten we owned it. We couldn’t swear that we had even read the novel. Flipping through the book, examining a passage here, a passage there, brought nothing of the story back to mind.
Okay, we know it featured a regular Connelly character named Mickey Haller, the “Lincoln Lawyer,” an ethics-challenged defense attorney, half-brother to Connelly’s police detective hero, Harry Bosch.
But we know all that mostly because it says so on the cover. We also spotted both names while we searched the book to jog our memory. Memory remained otherwise unjogged. What “reversal”? What crime? Who did what and why? How did Haller and Bosch triumph, and over whom? No image, no episode, no snatch of dialogue bubbled up from the depths. We were stumped.
We dropped The Reversal back atop the stack of books to be recycled and thought, “That has got to be the very definition of a great read.”
The Reversal by Michael Connelly. Highly recommended.
NiceWork is bereft. The little review I’d planned for this space today ran into some difficulties when I took the book I was going to review — The Associate by John Grisham — and stuffed it into the recycle bag after having only penetrated to page 46. You can’t justly discuss a book of which you’ve read only the first 46 pages of its full 373, but then, I suppose a reader rebellion against a plot trick so cheap that it stops you dead in your tracks — well, that is a review of sorts.
Madame NiceWork, who gamely persevered beyond page 46 all the way to the end, assured me The Associate does not justify the veritable “it was all a dream” story cheat, and I choose to trust her judgment. You who have no idea of her rock-solid integrity need not be so credulous. Read it yourself. If you hurry you will find a nearly new copy of The Associate in the blue recycle bin by the curb on Mulholland Drive, L.A.. Pick-up is next Friday.
by John Grisham
(Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 373pp.)
There they were all stacked up on a table by the checkout lane of Ralph’s Fine Foods: newly minted copies of John Grisham’s latest John Grisham. The Associate. And at 40% off! It was a Butterfinger in a beartrap, I knew, but I reached in anyhow and transferred the gleaming volume to the baby seat of a shopping cart filled with avocadoes, toaster waffles, hoisin sauce and Brawny paper towels.
Impulse purchases always shame a bit, but they have a zing, too, and buying books at a grocery store has a lowdown zing all its own. I still fondly remember the demimonde loucheness I felt tucking a lurid LeCarré — The Honourable Schoolboy — in amidst the Campbells cans back in the 20th century.
At least the LeCarré was a cheap paperback. The Grisham boasts cardboard flanks. Even at 40% off a hardcover junkola legal intrigue can’t be characterized as other than a squandering of wealth. But it’s not so much the expense. The shame in the case of The Associate lies in putting yet another book atop the already tottering “To Read” stack. Oh, I’ll get to it, sure, but when? What was the hurry?
So I handed it to Madame NiceWork for her entertainment and to assuage my guilt. She buzzed right through it. One go. A good sign, unputdownableness. Now Mme NiceWork generally prefers better reading than the rubbish with which I cloud my brain, but can recognize the charm of zippylit when it makes its brief but dashing appearance on the stage. Unfortunately, in the case of The Associate, despite its evident grip, she pronounced the ending “disappointing.”
There you have it: a pre-review. Disappointing. But I’ll read it anyhow — Grisham has me and he knows it, the fiend — and after I have done so and have formed an opinion, I will urge you on or warn you off. Until then, shopper, look neither left nor right as you roll forward to pay for your broccoli.
The Associate, by John Grisham, Doubleday Books, 373 carefully crafted pages.