Book Review: The Whistler

The Whistler cover

I hope that everyone is doing well, and making plans for the coming weekend.

As usual, I am still waiting on the preorders from Amazon, which I expect to arrive sometime in the coming week, but I at least have not run out of things to cover, because I received my first request via a Patreon donor, and I at least the requested title lying around.

Today, I will be reviewing that requested title, which is called The Whistler by John Grisham.

The system of justice is seen as perfect by many people because the people that commit evil and dishonest acts are remove from society, so that victims can have peace and the innocent are protected.

However, those in the system, or have been in it, know otherwise, Stacy Stoltz, a person who investigate claims against judges, is all too aware of it, and when she and her partner get asked to investigate a judge with a very good reputation, they stumble upon a case that is way bigger than they could imagine, which may very well put lives of themselves and the ones the whole dear in jeopardy.

Right now, I cannot really say that I liked this book all that much.

However, in order to try to be as fair as I can to the author, before I possibly rip him a new one, like I did with Yen Press in my review of the final volume of Judge, I must talk about what was done right, especially because there were things that were done right.

From the moment that I started reading this book, I was sucked into the world and wanted to find out what would happen, though I did not feel like I had to keep going like I did with Weston Kincade’s Salvation, now called To Kill an Assassin, or many of the series that I follow, and hope to be able to continue following, such as Detective Conan, The Ancient Magus Bride, and A Certain Scientific Railgun.

While I do not know or have contact with John Grisham, nor am I as familiar with his work as I am with Weston Kincade’s, this is what I expect to see from somebody like him because he is one of those names out there that would be able to sell a book just by putting their name on it and he has even written close to forty books, according the author profile at the end of the book.

If he was not able to create some kind of hook towards the beginning, I would have not only been disappointed, since I would have been reliving horrible experience that was The Book Thief, I would also be willing to call him nothing but a joke, even though I have only read and reviewed one other book written by him, whereas I have easily read more than two books written by Agatha Christie and Weston Kincade.

Anybody and their dog can come up with an interesting premise, such as the one given in the official summary of the book, but the truly great writers that receive praises from both the big-name reviewers and individuals, like myself, can capture the audience’s attention by just a few words, and John Grisham was able to pull that off. He might not be having me singing his praises like the blurbs in the book or those featured on the sites of biggest online retailers, but I do feel like giving him a thumbs up for something right.

I also liked how, like Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, the story was easy to follow.

While writers tend to not continually write great works after a period of time, and some people I know seem to be saying that John had reached the peak of his writing abilities, I still expect some consistency in their work.

After all, why would anybody continue following a writer if things change too drastically and there is no improvement in their writing?

While I was reading through this book, I had absolutely no troubles following along with was going or what was being said, aside from a few instances where I probably would have preferred reading this digitally since it far quicker to look things up using the define: prefix in Google or holding down a word in iBooks than it is to go through dictionaries manually and finding out what the various abbreviations, acronyms, or words mean, which really helped me become immersed in this work early on.

Thank you, John, for not becoming worse in that department after the time I spent reading your other book, especially considering that this came out in October 2016 and Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer came out in May 2011, according to Amazon.

Yes, they are not in the same demographic field, since Theodore Boone is more aimed towards kids and this is aimed at adults, much like how Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is aimed at an older audience than the audience of Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, but that does not mean that it is okay for things to become harder to follow, and that is why John Grisham deserve to get some praises for this.

Of course, if John did disappoint me, then he would definitely not deserve the recognition that he gets from public, and make himself look even more like a joke.

Another nice thing about this work is that John shows what life is like for his characters outside of the major conflict of a judge with connections to criminals.

While seeing what an ordinary day in the lives of the characters is not that unusual to see in the many works of fiction out there, especially in the anime and manga I normally follow, as opposed to the prose fiction and primetime and cable shows that many think I should move on to, they do not always feel that realistic, though that could also be because our lives are drastically different now than when people like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Maurice LeBlanc, and G.K. Chesterton lived or just the author’s imagination, but the lives of the characters present here did feel a bit more realistic, even if it is much more similar to culture of the country where I live, instead of the cultures of the various other countries out there, even the ones that have produced the bulk of the fictional content I pay attention to.

This helps in making the book not feel too intense and much more down to earth, especially because the tonal shifts feel way more natural than how Rewrite episode 10 went from being emotional to trying, and failing miserably, to be funny.

Yes, fiction when I live does not have problems in shifting from a humorous to a serious tone, but it still does not mean that John Grisham should not be praised for giving focus to more than just the main plot, since many new writers do not seem to do that too much, if at all.

Another nice thing about this book was that nobody seemed to be totally incompetent.

Outside of manga and anime, I tend to delve into quite a few works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction works, which I got into thanks to Detective Conan, and many of those works, whether they were written by somebody like Arthur Conan Doyle or some nobody, tends to portray people that would normally be fairly good at their job, like police officers and other law enforcement officials, as inept, which is the reason why many of the most famous detectives of fiction get involved with the case, and it kind of gets boring after a while.

Here, however, there does not seem to be as many incompetent people on the side that the author wants us rooting for, and it actually felt kind of refreshing.

While I would want to say that it seems like John did a decent amount of research, I can only say that I expect nothing less from, since John Grisham is known for his legal thrillers, so I can only give him a pass on this matter, since I do not see John Grisham as somebody that is as good as Agatha Christie was when she was alive.

Maybe John Grisham will impress me in future works, should I decide to get another book from him, or I get another request to talk about his work, but I am just not in the mood for another one of his books, and hope that I do have to read anything from him for a few more decades or longer.

The thing that I liked the most though was how there did not seem to be any loose ends after the book ended.

As many of you guys can probably tell, I have been singing praises for Agatha Christie’s A Pocket Full of Rye because of how well it show that the behaviors we associate with guilt does not mean that the person is guilty, even though red herrings are not exactly unique to that story, but it ended on a bad note because things did not like they were actually closed. The way it ended made me think that the culprit would show up again and cause more trouble for authorities, much like Hannibal Lecter and Arsène Lupin are known to do, even though he does not, from what I could find.

Here, however, things felt like they had actually been resolved.

If I had to say why, it is probably because the criminals were not only arrested but their sentences were also revealed, which is something that is not usually revealed in detective, mystery, and crime fiction stories, or even shows like Law & Order.

Stories do not need to reveal everything, but they do need to feel like they have a definitive end, and John Grisham really delivers in aspect, which shows that he is a competent writer, even if he has really has reached his peak of greatness.

If more anime these days felt like they had a definitive end, like this book and many of the anime I grew up watching do, it might not be ridicule as much.

Then again, people will still call it nothing more than something for perverts and kids, even if it is not pornographic and contain serious subject matter, such as child abuse, which is shown in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, and the realities of what life is like with depression, regardless of whether it has a more definitive end or not.

Still, John Grisham does deserve credit for at least doing something that many great writers of the past forgot to do.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that particularly liked.

Because this book was able to capture my attention in the beginning and was easy to follow, as well as how the John shows what lives of his characters outside of work, as well as had a satisfying end, the book fairly decent.

Although there were some things that I liked about the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from issues too minor to talk about, only one thing really bothered me.

This book had a really hard time maintaining my attention throughout the entire work.

Now, some of you guys might be shock by this, since many of the other books that I recently read, manga or otherwise, have been able to my interest enough that I would have not wanted if I did not have to satisfy the needs that every human must satisfy, but I have a few works that have not been able to maintain my interest.

While I was reading this book, there were moments where I felt like I could just lay down this book and be perfectly fine with not continuing on with it.

No, it was not as boring as the first and second books, with the latter being worse, of A Certain Magical Index, but there was not enough to have me at the edge of my seat.

If I had to give a reason, there are two big ones.

First, there was little, if any, mystery, nor did I get any of the feelings that I would expect from a thriller, such as suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation, or anxiety, as often as I would have liked.

John Grisham has been writing these kinds of books for roughly 2-3 decades, with other kinds of stories mixed in over his life as a writer, and he and his publishers expect to fly with people like me? This is what John Grisham is known for and he should know how to deliver a thriller.

Instead, I get something that feels like neither or thriller nor something that would fit into same kinds of genres that Agatha Christie was known at excel at, and it makes me want to call him a joke.

The only way that this could have been improved was if I was not even introduced to the people being chased or the one that keeps getting called the mole, because I was on the edge my seat right until I saw what they were up to.

True, I may out of my element a bit, since the vast majority of works I have reviewed are manga, works in the detective, mystery, and fiction genres, a few paranormal and/or horror stories, and stories with supernatural elements, but the mystery element is what gave me exactly what I expect to get from thrillers and the story started off in a way that I did not know anything.

The way that John Grisham presents his story does not even match what his skill level is reportedly to be, and it really brings down the quality of the work.

Please, John, do everyone a favor and learn what it takes to actually create a thriller, because, if you do not, I would probably put you in the same basket than anime fans put the likes of Sword Art Online and DBZ in, even though you do not anything as terrible as what is seen in those shows.

Hopefully, John Grisham will do better with Camino Island, which the product page on Barnes & Noble’s website says will be released in June of this year, but I get the feeling that the big name critics are going to be giving it a more glowing review than what I would, and I would like to be proven wrong.

The other reason that this book failed to hold my attention was because the lives of the characters felt rather boring.

Now, I do not expect the lives of the characters to have some interesting happening every day, such as somehow finding a dead body wherever they go or being on a chase or chased, but I do not want to feel bored out of my mind while seeing two people flirt or doing something else that people would do every day.

Readers want the boring stuff and the interesting stuff to be interesting as a whole, and John Grisham ruins it by making things a little too real and the characters themselves being fairly uninteresting.

People that live in the same country that I do and are actual fans of legal thrillers might find what is going on interesting, but I do not.

In fact, I feel like I would rather go to sleep than watch something like this play out on the screen, and ask to be woken up when the actual investigation and anything related directly to it were happening, but then, that would probably annoy some people.

If the characters had felt a bit more lively, I may have been a bit more interested, and I could have actually given John Grisham some praise.

Unfortunately, because it is important for a work of fiction to hold a reader’s attention all the way through, John Grisham has utterly failed to the point where I want to create a list of writers to completely avoid, though I might be on such a list for other people too, and I am okay with that since I know that not everything I write deserves an award or will please experts in the writing industry.

All I can ask is that John Grisham and his editors and proofreaders take time to actually make the whole work enjoy, as opposed to only having the eye candy be draw, but until John Grisham is no longer one of those who can sell books with his name alone, nobody would actually care what he does.

While there was only one major problem with the work, it was bad enough to the point where almost any redeeming value that could be found was lost.

Despite the fact that there was quite a bit to like, especially how those working in law enforcement did not come off as incompetent, the problems overshadowed them enough to make this book good enough to only kill time.

I mainly recommend this to fans of John Grisham, because they might not be as bothered as I was, though longtime fans have a chance of being disappointed too.

As for everyone else, I recommend avoiding this book like the plague and looking elsewhere if you want a good thriller.

If you have read this book, what do you think of The Whistler? Please leave a comment and let everyone know why you liked or hated this book, especially if your reasons differ from my own.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, or have a book that you would want to me review, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I continue to find worthwhile reads.

Copyright © 2017 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.