Grisham seems to be heading downhill with these recent efforts. 'Camino Island' is even more disappointing than 'The Rooster Bar' as it is slower than molasses and drier than soda crackers. Grisham rips off a real-life university heist for his first chapter but the writing goes south from that point. Even the eventual and expected sex scene fizzles into nothingness. I had to prod myself to stay awake or pry myself away from more enjoyable things like a root canal to return to the novel.
I enjoyed this book, though it's not typical Grisham. It begins with an exciting, well planned heist of all 5 original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels from the Princeton Library by a group of thieves. They might all have had time to get far away, if not for a single drop of blood left in the library vault. The FBI processes the DNA faster than Ancestry.com will do yours or mine. This man and another are caught by the FBI within two days and languish in jail because they won't talk. The others, who, lucky for them, have the manuscripts, scatter, following Plan B. We then switch to less probable doings. Mercer, a young novelist with writer's block, a professor who's lost her job, is approached by a mysterious woman who offers a lot of money--and payment of her student loans--to spy on the top suspect for the receiver of the manuscripts. He's an independent bookseller who collects first editions, pretty women, and writers. The rest of the book becomes something of a satire, with, unfortunately, Mercer a fairly weak character to hang a Grisham book on. Still, a fun, quick read with lawyers only in the background. Even without a courtroom scene, this one will sell. It will probably make him a movie too.
If Grisham had written Camino Island under a pseudonym, I probably would have found it a mildly enjoyable, lightweight, tale that gives the book industry outsider a glimpse behind the scene. As a long-time bookstore manager, I can attest to the accuracy of much of what Grisham writes about authors and their interactions with each other and with the people who sell their books. That accuracy is the strength of this book.
But this is Grisham, and so much more is expected. Having just read The Rooster Bar, which I thoroughly disliked, I will say that Camino Island was much more enjoyable, for me at least.
It has been years since I have read one of his books. I didn't enjoy it as much and thought it was the author's fault or maybe the reader's fault (age). It seems others weren't as impressed so I haven't lost my mind.
Just okay--not one of his usual "can't put down" books. But certainly not his worst (that would be "Skipping Christmas" ...couldn't finish it). 290 pages so a relatively quick read. And almost no lawyers! A NYT book critic put it best: "Grisham takes a vacation from writing Grisham novels"
This is the latest John Grisham novel - but I didn't find it nearly as interesting as his earlier novels - such as The Firm or The Runaway Jury.
First book I've ever read of Grisham's. I think he has a new fan. I really enjoyed this one.
This is cozy crime. Literary commentary amongst the characters who are writers interested me more than the actual crime. The resolution sort of slid into a puddle with little splash.
Beezbuzz summed it up perfectly. Do not waste your time on this book. Just plain dumb all around.
I borrowed this book for a second time, forgetting that I had started it once before and didn't like it. I still don't like it. It is not up to the usual standard set by Grisham's early books. Sycamore Row was another less than the usual standard.
Just struggled through Camino Island and what a chore it was; certainly not what I've come to expect from Grisham's earlier works. It's way too wordy and the plot is beyond belief. He needs to go back to what he does best.
I've read countless Grisham novels and have enjoyed almost all of them, including some of his offbeat entries (e.g., "Playing for Pizza," which I enjoyed immensely). However, "Camino Island" is not a good book, and but for the Grisham name, I doubt it would have been published. It drifts from a promising suspense/thriller text into a tepid romance novel populated with predictable characters. The scenario behind the role of the protagonist is implausible, and the conclusion is bland and unsatisfying. If you must read the latest Grisham work, help yourself, but don't expect it to meet his typical level of quality.
It was difficult to read as a book. In the book he talks about books and stories that you just force yourself to finish to see how it ends...this is that book. Unfortunately his novels have been getting progressively very "shallow" and the stories have been non-engaging. He seems to infuse political opinion in the stories more and more...that doesn't necessarily make for great "escape" literature. This is the last book I read of his.
This was a good read. It had a little bit of Historical Fiction and some intrigue. What if??
Camino Island is the ideal beach read. It brought me back to my favorite hideaway. This is a much different book from Grisham. I learned a lot about the world of books - writing and collecting. I liked it. He left it wide open for a sequel as well.
Once in a while, I disagree with the author's hero. This book is one of those big time. This book is not for me.
I read this book before reading The Rooster Bar by same author. If you haven't read The Rooster Bar yet, it's about the high cost of law school tuition and three pals who scam the scammers. Reflecting back on reading Camino Island which is about the "fictionalized" Princeton University owning original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald worth millions of dollars, guarded and kept under lock and key, and although I realize the book is fiction, if universities have become serious collectors of rare pieces of literature locked away where very few are allowed to peruse, what do these collections benefit the average college student? Perhaps we've discovered a connection (one of just many) to the outrageous tuition challenge. Spoiler Alert: The book collector who buys the stolen manuscripts gets off scott-free, the University absorbs the loss along with the insurance company, and ultimately the cost is passed on to consumers . . . where has that happened before? I'm becoming less and less of a Grisham fan with each book. I actually finished the book but it was a disappointment. My advice to Grisham is . . . come back to the typewriter and exorcise the ghostwriters!
Almost a short story, this book is a long way from Grisham's earlier books for which he is well known, but I liked it as a beach story. For the protagonist to make such an egregious mistake to keep the plot going 'jumped the shark' for me. I can't help but think how hard it must be for author's to keep up with their own past success.
I have read all of Grisham's books and I had to wait a long time for this one. However, a big disappointment! Sometimes a writer can be too prolific and instead of spinning out another book with hundreds patiently waiting for it, it might be better to wait until you have a feasible plot. Usually, I like Grisham's approach; his characters are often bold and decisive; often doing the unexpected with challenges they must overcome each step of the way. But the plot of Camino Island had three weak building blocks (which I won't divulge so as not to spoil the book for Grisham fans) and these caused me to lose major interest in the seriousness of the the entire book. So thumbs down for me!
First book I've read by this author. Found it to be a good summer read -- involving books (being stolen, written, sold, read, discussed), writers (some successful, some struggling -- but all with lots to say), walks along the beach (past and present), and a central character (Mercer) who finds herself caught up in much more than she expects. The ending leaves a few things to the reader's imagination (and that was fine with me).
Not his best but an entertaining read with an interesting twist at the end. Not sure how I feel about that.
At first I thought "John Grisham" is back. Then the plot got more and more ponderous, and somewhat implausible, didn't care enough to finish it. Too bad.
Enjoyed this Grisham novel more than Gray Mountain. This time, the story began with a crew of criminals pulled off a daring caper that involved a set of rare manuscripts at Princeton U. As the FBI pursued their leads, the insurance investigators recruited a debt ridden writer who was an adjunct professor in UNC to befriend a person of interest, a charismatic bookstore owner on Camino Island in Florida. During the pursuit to solve and recover the stolen manuscript, readers learned about the worlds of rare book collectors/crimes/middlemen, muses of writers, book tours and book retailing. Interesting. easy and fast pace read.