The Whistler

The Whistler

eBook - 2016
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Lacy Stoltz, an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, takes on a case involving a corrupt judge, a Native American casino, and the mafia when a previously disbarred lawyer approaches her on behalf of a client who claims to know the truth.
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9780385541206
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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s
shteebo
May 15, 2019

Kept me reading, but it's not a memorable story.

t
tracysue
Feb 06, 2019

I found this to be an entertaining read, but a bit slow in parts.

c
c_tingstad
Jan 11, 2019

This work takes an uncomfortably conservative bend I don't remember Grisham espousing in his other books, in that it relies on racist, homophobic and sexist stereotypes which, beyond being morally annoying, betrays laziness in imagination, research, and writing.

Of particular issue is the portrayal of Native American communities. Because of diversity of citizenship, virtually none of the the issues the crooked judge swung are likely to have been filed or, if initially filed, kept in state court. This massive departure from reality makes the poor portrayal of indigenous communities even more frustrating. You want to write about lawyers who investigate state judges and you need a frame for corruption to occur so you picked American Indians, a community that virtually never interacts with state courts and certainly not to the degree implied in the novel because what, you're racist? Probably, since a character literally refers to the tribe at the center of the novel as "an unsophisticated people", a view that is never critiqued by any other character or by the overarching frame of the novel itself. A pivotal character mentions being probably about 1/8 of that tribe and our main character replies, "you don't look the part" to which the first character replies, "thanks." In the denouement the tribe as a whole is viewed as "not entirely blameless" because they re-elected a corrupt chief, and one of the discussion questions included at the end of the book asks (legitimately, based the themes of the novel) how the tribe's laws served to hinder our protagonist's investigation. Taken together the whole novel is a massive, blatant attack on tribal sovereignty that on the way there manages to smear women (particularly lesbians) and Black culture, religion, and family. At one point Grisham attempts to level an extremely weak criticism of the death penalty that is ultimately undermined when one of the 'bad guys' is sentenced to death andour main characters--who were earlier concerned by the practice of capital punishment--offer no comment.

This has got to be one of the worst novels I have ever read in terms of lazy writing and reliance on bigoted stereotypes. In addition the characters are all dry and forgettable, and the narrative tone serves to distance the reader from the plot. Exactly one plot point comes as a surprise: otherwise, the whole thing unfolds exactly as expected with nothing to keep the reader engaged intellectually or emotionally.

I loved Grisham's novels when I was a tween and teen. They were some of the first modern books I read not directed to a young adult or child audience. I don't know if, having now worked for both a civil investigative government agency and a law practice, I am incapable of suspending disbelief to the level I once could. I don't know if Grisham's writing has always utilized racist, sexist and homophobic tropes and stereotypes to this degree and I was simply too naive to catch it, or if this novel is particularly hastily written and poorly done. The only reason I kept reading through the whole thing was to see if, through his typical practice of plot twists, he challenged any of the bigoted premises he established. I was sorely disappointed.

In short, I consider this novel an utter waste of time and would not recommend it to my worst enemy.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jul 24, 2018

As a legal thriller, The Whistler focuses on the idea of judicial corruption and misconduct. It ties together inner financial operations of a wealthy casino with a judge reported to be engaging in funding its construction on what is meant to be Native American land. The business of the casino involves secretive money laundering, which is a major source of the state's ill-gotten gains, supplying the Coast Mafia with greater influence. John Grisham is able to create a vast environment within the story, as readers are led through a captivating chase. The perspective of Lacy Stoltz is followed, who is part of the Board on Judicial Conduct, and on a dangerous investigation to track down the sources of corruption. However, it entails danger and suspense throughout. The very topic of the story is captivating, since there are many potential twists and turns, which will undoubtedly leave the reader engaged. Rating: 4 of 5
- @Mercurial_Series of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

z
Zoelexi777
Jul 12, 2018

Fantastic read. I couldn’t put it down.

k
kimchan98
Jun 13, 2018

Nest book i have read in awhile. I could see this becoming a movie...if not already....

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

No need to read the lengthy description. This quote from book does it: “So, your story involves organized criminals, Indians who own casinos, and a crooked judge, all in bed together?”
This book is less entertaining but with more in-depth schemes on tribal politics, the mob, corruptions, skimming, money laundering and vices associated with building and operating an Indian Casino than the TV series “Longmire.” A page turner without force-fitted and illogical twists.

h
happycanuck
Feb 17, 2018

Good but not outstanding ....typical Grisham style

y
YawarAshraf
Dec 16, 2017

Not a bad read at all. However, it is certainly not one of Grisham's best. I felt some of the parts were rushed a bit and required some extra detail to fill in the minor uncertainties.

r
reeread
Nov 09, 2017

Haven't read a John Grisham for some time. An enjoyable read.

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

St. Augustine was billed as the oldest city in America, the very spot where Ponce de León landed and began exploring. Long on history and heavy on tourism, it was a lovely town with historic buildings and thick Spanish moss dripping from ancient oaks.
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As lawyers, they valued their time. As investigators, they had learned patience. The two roles were often in conflict.
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I’m legit, or as legit an any ex-con can be, and every word I’m saying is true.”
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And the story I can tell you involves more dirty cash than all the others combined. It also involves bribery, extortion, intimidation, rigged trials, at least two murders, and one wrongful conviction. There’s a man rotting away on death row an hour from here who was framed. The man responsible for the crime is probably sitting on his boat right now, a boat much nicer than mine.
===
“Ever hear of the Catfish Mafia?”

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

“When do we get his name?” Hugo asked. “You’re assuming it’s a male.” “We’re not assuming anything.” “That’s a good way to start.”
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“So, your story involves organized criminals, Indians who own casinos, and a crooked judge, all in bed together?” “That’s a fair summary.”
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He needed more staff but there was no money. His six investigators—four in Tallahassee and two in Fort Lauderdale—were working an average of fifty hours a week, and almost all were secretly looking for other jobs.
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Once a heavy smoker—a good portion of the smoke-stained windows and ceilings could be blamed on her—she had been battling lung cancer for the past three years but had yet to miss a full week of work.
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“So this guy’s a crook?” Geismar asked. Hugo said, “He’s certainly a convicted felon, but he’s served his time, paid his dues, and is now an upstanding member of our bar, same as the three of us.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

There was once a Dixie Mafia, a Redneck Mafia, a Texas Mafia, all similar gangs of thugs. It looks like most of them were long on legend and short on criminal efficiency. Just a bunch of Bubbas who liked to sell whiskey and break legs. Not one word anywhere of a so-called Catfish Mafia, or a Coast Mafia. Not to say it doesn’t exist, but I found nothing.
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At thirty-six, she wondered every day if she would ever hold a child of her own. She didn’t have the answer, but as the clock ticked she worried that her chances were getting slimmer.
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The tribe was violently split over the issue of casino gambling. The opponents were led by an agitator named Son Razko, who was a Christian and opposed gambling on moral grounds. He organized his followers and they seemed to be in the majority. The proponents of the casino promised riches for all—new homes, lifetime pensions, better schools, free college tuition, health care, the list went on and on.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

“Where’s the corruption?” Lacy asked. “Everywhere…”
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We are dealing with sophisticated crooks who have excellent lawyers.
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Xxyyzz sold her soul to the devil to get elected and she’s been getting paid ever since.
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In America, Indians don’t pay taxes on casino profits. The Tappacola didn’t want to share. The county felt jilted, especially after going to all the trouble of building a spanking-new four-lane highway that runs for over seven miles. So the county pulled a fast one and convinced the state legislature to allow it to collect tolls on the new road.
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“So to summarize the case so far, our target, Judge Claudia McDover, takes bribes from thugs, skims casino cash from the Indians, and somehow launders the money with the help of a very close friend who happens to be an estate lawyer.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

Only California had more men on death row than Florida. Texas was a close third, but since it was more focused on keeping its numbers down its population was around 330, give or take. California, with little interest in executing people, had 650. Florida longed to be another Texas, but its appellate courts kept getting in the way. Last year, 2010, only one man was lethally injected at Starke.
===
Each prisoner was kept in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours a day. The other hour was for “recreation,” a chance to walk around a small, grassy area and look at the sun. Each cell was six feet by nine, with a nine-foot ceiling. Each bed was smaller than a twin-size and just inches away from a stainless steel toilet. There was no air-conditioning, no cellmate, almost no human contact except for the usual chatter from the guards at feeding time.
===
Imagine being a kid and your mother gets murdered. Everybody says your father did it and they send him to death row.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

When a Tappacola turns eighteen, he or she qualifies for a lifetime pension of $5,000 a month, and that might go up. It’s called the dividend. Even me, sitting here on death row, I’m collecting the dividends.
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Every Tappacola gets free health care, free education, and college expenses if he or she wants it.
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His hesitancy suggested he was struggling not with the truth but with which version of it.
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“Depends on how hard you dig.”
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Over the years they had settled into a civilized relationship of mutual distrust, with each playing a well-defined role.
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Diamonds and jewelry are especially easy to smuggle out of the country. Cash can also be shipped by regular overnight parcel delivery to anywhere in the world, especially the Caribbean.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

Bribes really weren’t necessary in their part of the country. Take any form of growth, from high-end gated communities to low-end shopping centers, fix up a slick brochure filled with half-truths, label it “economic development” with the promise of tax revenue and jobs, and elected officials reached for their rubber stamps. If anyone mentioned environmental issues, or traffic or crowded schools, they were dismissed as liberals or tree huggers or, much worse, “northerners.”
===
The idea of an extra unit had been perfected by a legendary Florida developer nicknamed Condo Conroy. In the rush and fury of throwing up an ocean-side tower, plans were modified on the fly, walls moved here and there, and the result was an extra condo the zoning board knew nothing about.
===
I’d rather steal money than earn it. You, on the other hand, were pure, but the ease of your conversion to the dark side was astonishing.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

The truth was that, at the age of thirty-six, Lacy was content to live alone, to sleep in the center of the bed, to clean up only after herself, to make and spend her own money, to come and go as she pleased, to pursue her career without worrying about his, to plan her evenings with input from no one else, to cook or not to cook, and to have sole possession of the remote control. About a third of her girlfriends were young divorcées, all scarred and wounded and wanting no part of another man, not for the moment anyway. Another third were stuck in bad marriages with little hope of getting out. And the rest of her girlfriends were content with their relationships and either pursuing careers or having children.
===
In Florida, we have entered into treaties with all casino operators, and this allows us to collect a small tax on their profits. Very small, but it adds up. There are now nine casinos and they are all doing quite well.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

“Native American” is a politically correct creation of clueless white people who feel better using it, when in reality the Native Americans refer to themselves as Indians and snicker at those of us who don’t, but I digress).
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BJC was down to its last six investigators. Seven, in a state of twenty million people, with a thousand judges sitting in six hundred courtrooms and processing a half a million cases a year.
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As a sovereign nation, the Tappacola make and enforce their own laws, with no real regard for outside interference. The tribe has a constable who operates much like a county sheriff, and a full force of cops, all apparently well trained and equipped.
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The casino has lifted us out of poverty and given us nice things, so that’s a positive, a big one. We are healthier, happier, secure. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching outsiders flock in here and hand us their cash. We feel like we’re finally getting something back, perhaps a bit of revenge.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

“If life is more prosperous, why aren’t there more children?” “Stupidity. The council is dominated by idiots and they make bad rules. When a woman turns eighteen, she is entitled to the monthly check, which has been $5,000 for many years now. But if she marries, then it’s cut in half. I get $5,000; my wife gets $2,500. So, more and more of our young women frown on marriage.
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This is Indian land, Ms. Stoltz, and all the rules that govern an orderly society, all the things you believe in, simply don’t apply here. We govern ourselves. We make the laws. Neither the State of Florida nor the federal government has much say in what we do, especially when it comes to running the casino.
===

A formal complaint has been filed alleging some bad behavior by a circuit court judge. It involves a developer who’s apparently in bed with a tribe and its casino and a judge who’s sharing in the profits.

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