Mystery Monday Meme: Camino Island by John Grisham

Today’s mystery is Camino Island by John Grisham, a complicated look at the underground buying and selling of stolen first editions and manuscripts.  It begins with the theft of 5 priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University’s Firestone Library by a gang of five: Denny, Mark, Jerry, Trey & Ahmed — the at home man, “the forger, the the hacker, the creator of illusions”.  It is a heist flawlessly executed except for one thing:  a tiny drop of blood where a splintered piece of wood from the third drawer in the vault nicked Jerry as he lifted the duffle bag of tools as they were readying to leave.  Within a short period of time, Mark and Jerry are behind bars, Trey is dead, and Denny and Ahmed have fled the country.

With her adjunct professorship at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina about to expire, thirty-four-year-old Mercer Mann is offered a job she can’t refuse: live in her late grandmother’s house in Santa Rosa, Camino Island, Florida, work on her second novel, and learn what she can about Bruce Cable, owner of a popular bookstore on the main drag and where he keeps his real assets — stolen first editions and manuscripts.  The offer comes from a representative from a recovery company that helps insurance companies retrieve stolen items of great value to save them paying out huge fees.  They work closely with the FBI according to rep, Elaine Shelby, and since Mercer has spent many summers in Santa Rosa, her cover will be perfect — she’ll fit in with the literary crowd that Cable associates with and earn their trust.

Except for the murder of one of the gang members, there is no violence in this book.  It is a fairly laid back story mostly set in the small resort town on Camino Island and while there is a fair bit of suspense, both the dealer in stolen property and the amateur sleuth are likeable characters who come through the escapade relatively unscathed.  The recovery of the manuscripts is a delightfully complex episode that makes for an unusual resolution to the plot.  The characters providing the backdrop to the Santa Rosa community are interesting and diverse despite the literary connection, and the development of Mercer’s character as the story unfolds is totally believable.  The ending is surprising and the book is just a really fun read.  Classic Grisham.  * * * * 1/2


If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mention my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post or your sidebar.  (Links to books are an Amazon affiliate link!)

About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
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5 Responses to Mystery Monday Meme: Camino Island by John Grisham

  1. “…who come through the escapade relatively unscathed.” This is the only part of the review that I would suggest changing. Now that I’ve finished I see it as a bit of a spoiler. Perhaps this type of assessment could be written in the review as a question: “Will these characters come through unscathed ? ” is a matter that keeps the reader attentive because they are so likeable in this novel. I’ve been refining my attempts at reviews by focusing on author style, setting, defining genre, story flow, incorporation of factual details and degree of violence or sexual intimacy as warnings and give the plot only a sentence or two or three.I have been receiving offers to review new authors more frequently. I am not reading a book as PDF on my screen nor do I have kindle- they must send me hard copy. Some are so full of grammatical, spelling, poor word choice, and factual errors I stop after 50 pages and notify the author of these problems and decline to review as I need not lie about their writing and need not embarrass them with a public review . Who is the Sam Hill did the editing ? Some tell the story and are astonishingly void of adverbs and adjectives. I am a big fan of creative metaphors and similes when I read. That makes it literature not a mere book. Some have been so terrible yet have such spectacular praise on book jacket blurbs. Often that is a sign that the review is a concocted adoration written by relatives or friends. I do review novels by very established and famous authors even decades old that have hundreds , even thousands of reviews only for the desire to have an increased presence and name recognition on amazon that may create a following when I self publish a 500 cartoon paperback in the future.


  2. Coincidence. Started reading it coupla days ago . On page 137.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Colline says:

    I always enjoy reading John Grisham.

    Liked by 1 person

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