A Book Spy Review: ‘Camino Island’ By John Grisham

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For his latest novel, John Grisham swaps out the courtroom for bookstores–delving into the world of stolen manuscripts and rare books in Camino Island.

Kicking off his latest novel with a bang, Grisham opens with a beautifully choreographed heist that takes place at Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Buried beneath the surface is a high-security vault that houses rare, priceless manuscripts from F. Scott Fitzgerald–which serves as the target for the burglars.

Posing as grad students, a team of thieves follows their carefully laid-out plan, getting in and out–with the manuscripts–without a hitch.

In the aftermath of the robbery, the FBI begins their investigation with few leads to go on. Also on the case is a security firm hired by the company who insured Princeton University’s rare collection for up to $25 million. Though their motives are different, they want the same thing that the FBI wants–to find the robbers and recover the manuscripts. How they go about achieving that goal, though, is quite different.

While the FBI follows their own lead, the insurance investigators lock in on Bruce Cable, a well-known Florida-based bookstore owner who specializes in rare books and hard-to-find items. Cable, though, has also–very quietly–been known to move stolen products from his store on Camino Island.

To get close to Cable, Mercer Mann–a down-on-her-luck author who hasn’t written a novel in years–is brought in to be the eyes on the inside. Paid a hefty sum to go undercover, Mercer’s goal is to get close enough to Cable to learn about his illegal dealings.

What starts out as a straightforward investigation takes one shocking turn after another, and Mercer ends up discovering far more than she bargained for. 

Grisham has always been at his best when his characters are in the courtroom, but this novel proves he can write just about anything–mixing various settings, topics, and characters. The opening heist scene reads like something out of Oceans Eleven or The Thomas Crown Affair, hooking readers from the get-go. The character development is strong, and Cable–the sharp-dressed bookstore owner–steals most of the scenes he appears in.

Bottom line, John Grisham’s Camino Island is a fun, suspenseful novel that offers a compelling plot and nonstop surprises.

Book Details

Author: John Grisham
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0385543026
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7/10
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