The Whistler by John Grisham

whistlerAbout the Book

We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.


This is one of the books that my book club decided to read this month. Needless to say, as a Grisham fan, I was delighted by the decision. In The Whistler, Grisham takes on a new case whereby a corrupt judge is being investigated by the Board on Judicial Conduct. Heading the investigation is Lacy who takes on the case assisted by her partner, Hugo.

This book had all the makings of a suspenseful legal thriller. At the heart of the story is the anonymous informer known to the investigators as Greg Myers. Myers is mysterious. He works with an alias, lives on a boat and operates with a number of dispensable phones. He is the one who with all the information concerning the judge. In addition, he also works with an intermediary and the whistle-blower. All these characters have hidden identities not known to readers or the investigators.

I really liked the two investigators and their friendship. Their banter and relationship outside work made this quite an interesting read. Other characters that stood out include Lacy’s brother, Gunther and her boss, Geismar. I also liked Greg despite his shiftiness.

What we liked…

Most of the Literary Gems (the members of my book club also known as the gangsters) agreed that the story was interesting. They liked the angle of Indians and the casinos, the Coast Mafia and the whole money laundering story-line. They also liked Hugo, one of the lead investigators. Other members really liked Gunther. Although, this character is controversial (I didn’t like him).

What we didn’t like much….

I think that most of us agreed that the ending was rushed. The story builds up slowly and suddenly, so many things happen very fast and the epilogue ended up being too lengthy trying to wrap-up things.

There are members who felt like characterization was a bit weak (I didn’t think so). It was hard to really connect with most of the characters. However, I think this is usual in most legal thrillers that tend to be more plot-driven than character-driven.

I had an issue with the portrayal of Hugo, the seemingly only black character in the book. I felt like his race kept on being unnecessary brought up and his character was based on a number of stereotypes (again, I was the only one with this view).

What I think…

As I already mentioned, I do love legal thrillers especially by John Grisham. However, The Whistler is not one of my favourite titles by the author. I enjoyed the fact that the author did something different by focusing on an investigation about the judge as opposed to the usual court-room drama common in his books. However, I don’t think that this book was thrilling like his other titles such as The Rogue Lawyer so I ended up not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. That said, I can’t wait to read his next book.

19 thoughts on “The Whistler by John Grisham

  1. I used to read all of John Grisham’s book and then they seemed to get stale and I started passing them by. I may have to check out The Rogue Lawyer since you said it was a thrilling read…I’m always up for those:)

    1. He does have some great books but also a few misses along the way. The Rogue Lawyer was the last book that he wrote before this one and I really liked it. I hope that you will like it too if you get a chance to read it.

    1. His earlier books like A Time to Kill, The Chamber and The Client were really good but I didn’t really like this one and The Gray Mountains but I definitely recommend The Rogue Lawyer.

    1. Oh, if you get a chance then try out some of his earlier books. I recommend A Time to Kill. The Rogue Lawyer which was published in 2016 was also great. Thank you 🙂

  2. A shame this one didn’t live up to expectations! I’ve read various Grisham books in the past, and enjoyed most of them. I haven’t read The Rogue Lawyer yet and will keep that one in mind instead!

    1. I also really like his books. I have read almost all of them and can only say that I didn’t like just about three of them. I felt like the thrill part of this book was missing though it was an okay read. Rogue Lawyer has everything that makes a legal thriller great:-)

    1. He is really good with Legal Thrillers. Some of his most famous ones which have also been made into movies include A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Chambers, The Client and Runaway Jury. I hope that you will get something good to read when you decide to try out one of his books 🙂

  3. I haven’t read any Grisham yet, The Firm is high on my TBR but I just booked my entire February with ARCs, haha. I remember reading several reviews saying this one was not his strongest. I love legal thrillers so I think I’ll try to go through all of his books anyway. Great review!

    1. The Firm is great and I really liked the movie too. It had Tom Cruise and the story-line didn’t stray too much from the book. I hope that you will get a chance to read it someday. My February looks a lot like yours. I will be getting through my ARCs. I have a few that were published this month so I am behind schedule. All the best with yours. Happy reading.

      1. I hate Tom Cruise but I think it’d be nice to compare the book and the movie in a review 🙂 Let’s power through those ARCs and may they be good! 🙂

  4. I really like how this review shares not only your opinions but those of your book club (Literary Gems slays me)! This books sounds like it was appropriately controversial in order to have good discussion. The only Grisham I’ve read is A Time To Kill. I really enjoyed it, but not enough I am seeking out more of his books. Perhaps some day.

    1. I really liked A Time to Kill also. It was the first book that he wrote and in my opinion, it still remains the best one. This book was an unusual pick for book cliub and at first, I didn’t know how it would go but yeah, it turned out to be quite an interesting discussion:-)

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