Prather’s Pick: New Grisham novel a great read, indeed
July 17, 2018
John Grisham is the author of more than 30 novels for adults, including "The Rooster Bar," a new work for 2018 and this week's featured book.
Four main characters take center stage in the novel: Mark Frazier, Todd Lucero, Zola Maal and Gordon (Gordy) Tanner. All four have one thing in common; they attend Foggy Bottom Law School in Washington D.C. (I love the name "Foggy Bottom." It is an example of the satirical humor often woven into Grisham's plots.)
It isn't difficult to get accepted into Foggy Bottom, even if the applicant's score on the admission test is low. It isn't difficult to secure a loan to attend the school, either, but it leaves the law student with an incredibly high debt balance by graduation. Figuring undergraduate and law school, the debt for most students climbs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
All the law students count on getting a big lawyer position after finishing law school, with plenty of money to pay off their loans. However, they find out the hard way that the job market for lawyers right out of school isn't as hot as they expected — certainly not as enticing as advertised in the recruitment brochures.
Of course, getting a job depends on passing the bar, requiring perhaps six months of intensive study. Unfortunately, Foggy Bottom students have been bombing out. The pass rate is 56 percent. So, in short, Foggy Bottom is a bad law school. For that matter, is it a real school or a diploma mill?
Gordy Tanner decides to find out. He's under a lot of stress, not only with school, but also trying to juggle two relationships (one with Zola Maal). He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is off his meds, so he uses his manic energy to research Foggy Bottom. What he discovers is that the school is owned by Hinds Rackley, a Wall Street lawyer who specializes in investment work. It is one of eight law schools, and all of them are part of a complicated scheme to make money — the Great Law School Scam.
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Gordy reveals all to the other three law students, but then he gets a DUI and ends up in jail. When Mark Frazier and Todd Lucero go to the jail to bail Gordy out, they meet with a lawyer who spends time at the jail hustling clients. His business card says he is a "DUI Specialist." In truth, Mark and Todd guess he might not even be licensed. They also guess he may be raking in as much as 100 grand a year.
So, Mark and Todd put their heads together and come up with an ingenious plan to make money themselves. They change their names, have some business cards made, get new cellphones and come up with a name for their law firm — Upshaw, Parker, & Lane. They set up an office in a grungy space above the Rooster Bar, where they hang out. They then begin recruiting clients at the courthouse. All seems to go well until they take on a personal injury case.
Boy, is there a lot more to this novel, including the events in Zola's life. It's good reading, indeed.
I purchased the paperback version of "The Rooster Bar" for $9.99. The book is published by Dell Books. Look for it in the new book displays.