John Grisham’s The Client tells a unique mystery/crime story following the courtroom’s efforts to obtain justice through one uncooperative witness, and one highly-positioned mafia member who would stop at nothing to obstruct this campaign for justice — lest he be jailed for the killing of a prominent senator. And what makes this book so much more unique than other law and order books, what definitely intrigued me, is that the main character who’s in over his head is just an eleven-year-old boy. I admire how John Grisham doesn’t hesitate to jump straight into the action; in fact, what I consider to be one of the most important events to take place in the story occurs on page five.
The Client follows the escapades of eleven-year-old Mark Sway — a street-wise, independent, and surprisingly audacious boy — when he gets caught up in the middle of a court trial between the ruthless, mafia-backed Barry “The Blade” Muldanno and the authorities. Barry Muldanno is accused of killing a respected senator, and although it is obvious that Muldanno is the killer, the court battle is at a standstill because the court has no substantiating evidence. However, when Mark impulsively tries to prevent the suicide of Muldanno’s lawyer, Jerome Clifford, Mark unwittingly learns valuable information incriminating Muldanno. Although Mark very much wants to cooperate with the authorities, Muldanno will stop at nothing to keep Mark quiet — even if that means killing Mark and threatening his family. Soon, Mark gets stuck in limbo where, every other day, the court pesters him with questions that he refuses to answer, due to the mafia’s ominous threats looming over his head. Therefore, when the authorities start to put more pressure on Mark than he can handle, Mark hires Reggie Love, a fiesty, caring, unrelentless lawyer. They manage to evade both the mafia and law enforcement, long enough for Mark and Reggie to concoct a scheme using the information Mark learned from the dead lawyer Jerome Clifford. If they are successful, Mark will be free of his burden and will have a new, safer life with his family. If they fail, Mark and Reggie face death at the hands of the mafia, endangering Mark’s family in the process.
First of all, Grisham’s idea to use a child as the main protagonist in a crime story is unique on its own. Grisham’s portrayal of the feelings of an eleven-year-old under duress is also wholly on point. He also skillfully manipulates the feelings of his reader; throughout the book I was perpetually met with feelings of apprehension, worry, and curiosity.
Reviewed by Kaitlyn Chang