A library, a bookstore, and a Florida setting – count me in! I couldn’t resist and I’m happy to say this was a really good read. I tend to run hot and cold with Grisham’s books, sometimes I love his books, other times, not so much. I put this one in the love column for sure. And interestingly enough, it’s not a legal thriller.
The premise starts with a heist. Princeton University is home to the only original manuscripts of all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels as well as his notes, letters and papers. The manuscripts are priceless, to say the least, so when they are stolen, all sorts of agencies get involved in trying to find them.
The insurance company investigator needs help. They think that the owner of a small but very successful bookstore owner may have the manuscripts. The bookstore is on Camino Island outside of Jacksonville, Florida, (which bears a strong resemblance to Amelia Island, where Grisham has a home.)
The investigator zeroes in a Mercer, a novelist who grew up on the island. Mercer has just been let go from her teaching job, has mountains of student debt to pay off, and is three years late on her contracted next book. The investigator offers to pay off her student loans and pay her a ton of money besides. All she has to do is stay in her former summer home for a six month period, befriend the bookseller, and see what she can learn. She learns a lot about rare books, so I did as well, and it was completely fascinating.
I loved the premise of the book and Grisham really brought it home for me. Luckily, the library at Princeton is apparently nothing like the one described in the novel, lest someone get the bright idea to make fiction a reality. Grisham is quite a diverse writer, and he once again goes off in a different direction from his legal thrillers. This is a thriller, just no lawyering involved here. There are some reviews who cast this with a chick lit light, but I really didn’t see it. I will say that some of my favorite Grisham books, besides his first few legal thrillers, are his non-thrillers like Playing for Pizza and Skipping Christmas. Camino Island is just another really good read.
7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham. Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 6, 2017). ISBN 978-0385543026. 304p.