Rogue Lawyer | John Grisham

Once upon a time John Grisham was my everything author, I was obsessed and could inhale his pages through my eyes, but then it all started to appear formulaic and then he became an author machine that put out novels like daily bowel movements. But one thing remained the same, his consistency in knowing the law and an ability to constantly publish. I stopped reading his work a long time ago but our very own Kernel Fiona, also an ex criminal-lawyer kept on reading and reviews ROGUE LAWYER for us all. ROGUE LAWYER is out now from the fine folks at Hachette Australia, it is available in paperback, CD audio book and e-book and you can obtain it from good bookstores or HERE. Enjoy Fi’s thoughts……all the best……JK.


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Modelled along similar lines to Michael Connolly’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER, Grisham’s protagonist Sebastian Rudd operates from the back of an air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven van complete with a refrigerator, plush seats and booze. Grisham has written a forward to ROGUE LAWYER in which he declares his admiration for those lawyers who tread the fine line between orthodox legal representation and dancing with a city’s underbelly. While Grisham was once a practitioner who occasionally saw the inside of a courtroom, he harboured a deep respect for those colleagues who regularly battled it out in front of juries often for unpopular causes or clients and who generally flew by the seat of their pants.

As a former criminal lawyer, I too have had my fair share of colourful clients. I long gave up trying to explain to people why I represented the underdog or how I could possibly sit in the same room as an accused rapist or paedophile.  You either get it or you don’t. Predictably I really warmed to the character Rudd. Grisham has constructed an anti-hero who must travel behind bullet-proof glass never quite sure if the enemy is the disgruntled ex-client or the police. Rudd understands the rule of law that everyone is entitled to a fair trial even if it means he’s got to bend the rules a little.

Comparable to Sydney’s Chris Murphy, part of Rudd’s appeal is his celebrity and love of publicity. Basically he’s an attention-seeking media tart with a high intellect. He enjoys leaking salacious details to the press and wooing the camera. His biggest fights though are with his ex-wife, Judith the mother of his child.


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Judith is a mean-spirited, aggressive family lawyer whose girlfriend is a glamorous model.  In some ways it’s hard to conceive why Judith, apparently a lesbian, married Rudd and had a child with him. She is not portrayed as a woman who doesn’t know her own mind. She has very definite ideas about how her son, Starcher should be raised and would like nothing more than for Rudd to walk under a bus or disappear off the scene altogether. Rudd, however, is not going anywhere or at least not without one hell of a showdown. While he may be the absent father, he clearly loves his son despite taking him to dubious activities such as cage fighting. As a consequence, Judith constantly wages war on her former husband and at her bidding, the two are regular combatants in miserable family court proceedings.

If Grisham is good at creating heroes he is no less adept at constructing villains. The bad guys in ROGUE LAWYER are not restricted to the law breakers and a lot of them are utter scumbags.  So too with the alleged good guys, Grisham has written characters who are sufficient shades of grey and therefore believable. While Rudd is out there fighting the good fight, he is also out for himself. While he loves his son, it doesn’t mean he’s always an attentive father. I appreciated the realism.


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Rudd’s driver fills the role of bodyguard and law clerk. An ex-con from the wrong side of the tracks, Partner is always ready to take one for the team. Rudd pulled him out of his former life and gave him a stable job with a regular income complete with excitement and peril. He is Rudd’s confidant and he is no stranger to the laws of the street. With his teenage son doing serious time for a serious crime, Partner regularly takes his boss with him on jail visits and seeks his advice. The two are close buddies.

ROGUE LAWYER is told through a series of Rudd’s cases and personal encounters with mobsters on death row, Hispanic cage fighters, sex traffickers, dodgy government employees, the police department and the ubiquitous love interest. Grisham is skilled at spinning a yarn and his latest offering is no exception. It’s also clear that he enjoys writing and is intimately acquainted with his subject matter. By his own admission, this book is not just Grisham writing about what he knows, but those aspects of the rogue and renegade lawyer personalities that he really respects.

There is a vigilante streak in Rudd and a willingness to get down and dirty with his clients if it means saving their skins. Coupled with this is a certain fearlessness or perhaps recklessness that inevitably leads him into deep waters. The message is undeniably that street lawyers are a breed all on their own. And even though they may take a circuitous route, their ultimate destination is a just result.

If you’re a Grisham fan or a legal drama/crime fiction aficionado, you will be more than satisfied with ROGUE LAWYER.


4 Pops


Kernel Fiona was a criminal defence lawyer in a former life and now critiques books and writes short stories. She can’t resist spending large tracts of time in libraries, book shops and at writer’s festivals. Hopelessly in love with the written word, she told JK when applying for a writing position that “I would rather read then breathe” – I knew I had my next reviewer right then. You can catch her and her tweets at @FionaJayneFyfe1

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.