A friend loaned me her copy of Camino Island from John Grisham. I just had to read it, she said. Approximately .25 seconds after the book was in my hands, it was blowing up on social media. ‘Grisham hates indie authors!’ ‘What a jerk!’ You can imagine how the comments deteriorated from there. I wasn’t in a hurry to read the book after that. I’ve had enough of being bashed for deciding to become an indie author, thank you very much. But then I was stuck on an airplane and the other book I’d brought with me wasn’t doing it for me. I picked up Camino Island and – to my surprise – enjoyed it.
~ What’s it all about (aka the blurb) ~
A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.
Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.
~ My Review ~
Camino Island was a quick read that kept me engaged enough to keep flipping through the pages. It’s a credit to Grisham and his writing that I kept reading despite not liking a single character in the novel – and I’m not just talking about the thieves! Mercer Mann was a whiner who drove me to yell ‘just sit your butt down and write!’ Luckily I was off the plane by this point. Bruce Cable was an antihero and I love me some antiheroes, but Bruce was a bit too sleezy for my liking. Or maybe I’m just like Mercer – too narrow minded to understand an open ‘marriage’.
The story itself is engaging, although it wasn’t difficult to figure out where the loot was. It was the various characters and different storylines that kept the story interesting for me. In addition to Mercer and Bruce’s story, the narrative followed the various thieves from the initial heist until the bitter end. Whenever I got tired of Mercer and her whining, the narrative would switch to another character.
While Camino Island is a quick, fun read, the real question is whether Grisham is openly antagonistic towards indie writers. In my (humble?) opinion, Grisham is not antagonistic towards self-published authors. In fact – according to this book which, may I remind you, is fiction – Grisham has nothing good to say about authors.
- Self-published authors aren’t good enough to get agents and be traditionally published.
- Successful authors have sold out to make a buck.
- Romance authors write trash.
- Literary authors are full of themselves and struggle to write.
While I didn’t appreciate Grisham’s admittedly nasty comments towards the self-published authors, I didn’t take it personally. After all, this is fiction. Also, it’s completely realistic. Literary authors and successful traditionally published authors for the most part don’t have anything nice to say about self-published authors.
Have you read Camino Island? What are your thoughts? Love it? Hate it?