Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Lovers Will Want to Head to Grisham's Camino Island

Product Details

I know, I know. John Grisham certainly doesn't need any extra publicity from the likes of me. But this heist caper that takes place on a fictional island off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, is just too much fun not to recommend. Rumor has it that Grisham and his wife were driving to their Florida home from Mississippi and dreamed up the plot along the way.

The crime is executed in the first chapter. Five participants, some who've never been involved in nefarious adventures before, create a diversion that seems oh, so possible, break into the vaults in the basement of the Princeton University library, and make off with five manuscripts, original, handwritten novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Their value is incalculable.

A foolish, neophyte's mistake results in evidence being left at the scene and the FBI is all over the case within twenty-four hours. Then the trail grows cold. Grisham introduces us to Bruce Cable, a twenty-something English major with little direction in life, whose estranged father dies and leaves behind something more exciting than a few thousand dollars, signed first editions of classic American novels. Bruce spends a summer on Camino Island reading "War and Peace" and formulating an idea. Bay Books is born and becomes the "go to" place to see and be seen on the island.

Mercer Mann had a successful first novel but is now locked in writers' block hell. Plagued by student debt and losing her adjunct professor's job at Chapel Hill, Mann is ripe for recruitment by an insurance firm that's investigating the Princeton library's loss. Knowing that Mercer inherited a beach house on Camino Island from her grandmother, also understanding that Bruce Cable is an inveterate womanizer with a penchant for budding authors, the agent, Elaine, proposes a deal to Mercer that she simply can't refuse.

What ensues is a rollicking game of cat and mouse in which we're never quite sure which party is actually the guilty one and who's playing whom. Along the way we're taken into the fascinating international world of book collecting and preservation with an added bonus of Provencal antique acquisition. The shady characters are so likeable that we begin to root for them to get away with it, laughing all the way to the bank. Kind of like the author himself.

"Camino Island" can be read - I did - in a day, two max. I needed something light before tackling my two new assignments from "Library Journal," Salman Rushdie's "The Golden House," and Louise Erdrich's "Future Home of the Living God." I may be out of commission for a few weeks.


Paul Woodside said...

I've been reading lots of good things about this book. I haven't read anything by Grisham in quite some time and this sounds like one I'd enjoy.

Sallyb said...

It is a good one Maryellen. Just fun and informative about book preservation and all. I had kind of given up on Grisham cause they all seemed the same but I enjoyed this. Let's talk soon.