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Camino Island

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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. 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.


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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. 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.

30 review for Camino Island

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tom LA

    I'm a great Grisham fan, and I can say without a doubt that this is not one of his best works. The truth is, the book goes from very fast and very gripping to very slow and very girly far too quickly. It's like reading two different books intertwined, and I couldn't care less about the second one. I seriously doubt John Grisham wrote the whole thing. Some of the portions where the girl's POV is adopted are just too intimately "girly" in style to have been written by him. I'm not saying "girly" i I'm a great Grisham fan, and I can say without a doubt that this is not one of his best works. The truth is, the book goes from very fast and very gripping to very slow and very girly far too quickly. It's like reading two different books intertwined, and I couldn't care less about the second one. I seriously doubt John Grisham wrote the whole thing. Some of the portions where the girl's POV is adopted are just too intimately "girly" in style to have been written by him. I'm not saying "girly" in a negative sense at all, just a matter of tastes, but I have this very strong feeling that he had some help from a female ghostwriter, one who writes VERY differently from John Grisham. When I buy a Grisham book, I DO NOT want to end up reading a ghostwritten novel where the innocent girl with no personality ends up in bed with the rough, handsome and mysterious boss of the local literary world. WTF? Loved the beginning and the end, that actually sound like Grisham, but the middle section was a huge letdown, and it has a COMPLETELY "off" sound. My guess - and warning - is, this is ghost-writing gone too far. Also, the main character (Mercer) is an absolutely unbearable, pretentious woman with no likable feature at all. Maybe the woman who wrote that part of the book put her own personality into Mercer? I don't know what to think.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Linda

    "Your secrets are safe. I can't think of a soul I would want to tell." And these secrets are within a crime. A jumbo, over-the-top, kick in the door of modern literature, and pull down the shades type of heist. Dollar signs that even have dollar signs. When a group of well-rehearsed thieves make their way into the tombs of Princeton's lower vaulted depths, they come away with a golden grail in the form of original hand-written manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Miraculously, they stage enough div "Your secrets are safe. I can't think of a soul I would want to tell." And these secrets are within a crime. A jumbo, over-the-top, kick in the door of modern literature, and pull down the shades type of heist. Dollar signs that even have dollar signs. When a group of well-rehearsed thieves make their way into the tombs of Princeton's lower vaulted depths, they come away with a golden grail in the form of original hand-written manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Miraculously, they stage enough diversions that they escape the university grounds and burrow into their hideouts. But the coast is not always clear just because time passes. A flubadub occurs and two of the members are caught. Each of them utter not a word. Clear sailing for the others? Maybe yes and maybe no. Advice to oneself ala Grisham: Write what you know. So Grisham parachutes this story into the waiting arms of a bookstore owner in a small town on Camino Island in Florida. Bruce Cable (interesting name in regard to ol' Bruce's widely growing circuit in the book world) doesn't always ring his daily sales on his cash register. Bruce dabbles, on occasion, in the darker side of intellectual exchange. A first print version in impeccable condition sends his heart racing.....almost as much as a shapely woman swinging her hips and opening the bookstore door at the same time. Enter Mercer Mann who grew up on Camino Island and is a fledgling writer with a brief kiss of fame. She's now broke, unemployed, and somewhat bewildered when she's approached by a mysterious woman. A deal is struck in which Mercer will go undercover and try to get the goods on the elusive Bruce Cable. Mercer doesn't realize that someone else may be trying to get a foothold into Cable's backdoor operations as well. John Grisham presents quite a different read this time. We are immersed in the world of books and the intricate mechanisms of publishing. Dinner conversations abound with the chatter of authors bantering on about their books. It almost has the flavor of Hemingway and his feasts in Paris in the 1920's with his jaunty friends. And the drinks flow just as hard and fast. I enjoyed this one despite the fact that there is not a courtroom in sight as in Grisham's golden days. The heist itself seems to provide background noise. There wasn't the usual high tension as in times past. In addition, you may feel somewhat of a nudge that his character choices and dialogue have a bit of a different flavor for him this go-round. And different can be good. Now the ending......a swift kick in the pants and a wry smile.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Back with another new novel, John Grisham seeks to expand his horizons with a story free of much legalese, but with the slightest hint of some criminal activity. A heist at one of Princeton's libraries puts a number of original F. Scott Fitzgerald's manuscripts in the hands of some career criminals. Quick-acting FBI agents are able to scoop up two of the five, but the others are still in hiding, along with the manuscripts. When one is rumoured to have surfaced at a small book shop on Camino Isla Back with another new novel, John Grisham seeks to expand his horizons with a story free of much legalese, but with the slightest hint of some criminal activity. A heist at one of Princeton's libraries puts a number of original F. Scott Fitzgerald's manuscripts in the hands of some career criminals. Quick-acting FBI agents are able to scoop up two of the five, but the others are still in hiding, along with the manuscripts. When one is rumoured to have surfaced at a small book shop on Camino Island, the FBI's Rare Asset Recovery Unit pegs Bruce Kabel as being involved and plan keep an eye on his bookselling operation. Meanwhile, Mercer Mann is approached by a private security firm to help with the reacquisition of the manuscripts under the guise of writing her next novel. Mercer has struggled with her craft and is not sure she wants to play sleuth, particularly if it means returning to Camino Island, where she spent many summers with her grandmother. Taking a risk, Mercer agrees to open some old wounds and pretends to be writing, while surrounding herself with the local writing community. Slowly, Mercer begins building bridges with Bruce Kabel, in hopes of learning more about the manuscripts. However, as she grows closer to an answer, Mercer may have second thoughts of toppling all she has built in a short period of time. With millions of dollars on the line, Mercer must decide what is most important to her. Grisham shows that he has talent to pen novels that keep lawyers and the law outside of the narrative. Sure to appeal to a different group of readers, the story offers some interesting insight into the craft of writing the next 'great novel'. I have long been a fan of John Grisham and his novels, having cut my teeth on his legal thrillers throughout the years. This story differs greatly from those and serves a completely different purpose. While the legal thrillers are usually quite sharp-edged, this book shows a much smoother edge to Grisham's writing. The characters offer an interesting mix, giving the reader a great sampling of both mannerisms and characteristics that complement one another at times and clash at moments to offer some dramatic flavour to the story. One might say that the characters are a lot softer than Grisham usually presents, but the genre might play into that, alongside the intended audience. The plot and setting are also a much softer, transitioning from the rough and tumble heist at the beginning to the oceanfront setting of Florida, where the breeze and sand denote a more peaceful place for the book to develop. One also has a feel of more romance and emotional discovery in this book, where the reader is subjected to Mercer's inner turmoil and portions of her self-discovery as she grows closer to the man she is supposed to betray. Its structure also left me a little baffled, choosing 'chapters' in what are surely part divisions and then chopping up the chapters into enumerated pieces, clearly of the usual chapter variety. I will admit that the book was well-crafted and kept the story moving forward, but I feel it tapped too much into sentimentality and the development of the author's process than gritty legal battles and a dark exploration of the criminal element, which better suits Grisham as an author and my enjoyment of his stories. This book will surely create a stir, both good and bad, for the vast number of Grisham fans. I am happy to have offered my five Canadian cents and will watch as things transpire. Kudos, Mr. Grisham for another interesting novel. While it was not my favourite, your versatility shines through by penning this piece. I am eager to see how it is received. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    What a fun summer read! I haven't read a John Grisham book since the 90s, but I picked up Camino Island after seeing a positive review. I was intrigued because the story is a departure from Grisham's usual legal thrillers. The plot is that priceless manuscripts by F. Scott Fitzgerald were stolen from a Princeton library, and the hunt is on to catch the thieves and save the papers. The novel starts off with a thrill as we watch the gang of thieves go about the heist. (As a librarian and also as som What a fun summer read! I haven't read a John Grisham book since the 90s, but I picked up Camino Island after seeing a positive review. I was intrigued because the story is a departure from Grisham's usual legal thrillers. The plot is that priceless manuscripts by F. Scott Fitzgerald were stolen from a Princeton library, and the hunt is on to catch the thieves and save the papers. The novel starts off with a thrill as we watch the gang of thieves go about the heist. (As a librarian and also as someone who wants literary archives to be protected, I liked that Grisham completely made up the details of the theft and didn't base it on the real library layout, because he didn't want anyone trying to imitate the crime in real life.) After the Fitzgerald manuscripts are stolen, we watch the police and FBI work the case, but when the trail goes cold, investigators decide to send in someone undercover. Enter Mercer, an aspiring novelist who is tasked with infiltrating the social world of Bruce Cable, a bookseller in Camino Island, Florida, who is suspected of purchasing the stolen manuscripts. Mercer meets Bruce and some other writers in the area, and I really enjoyed the literary discussions they had. I won't spoil the ending of the mystery, but I was satisfied with how the plot was resolved. I enjoy reading books about books, so it was fitting that I liked this literary mystery so much. The dialogue is a bit on the nose at times, but I enjoyed this novel so much that it seems silly to quibble. Recommend for those who like bookish thrillers. Favorite Quotes "Some writers are seasoned raconteurs with an endless supply of stories and quips and one-liners. Others are reclusive and introverted souls who labor in their solitary worlds and struggle to mix and mingle. Mercer was somewhere in between." "Writers are generally split into two camps: those who carefully outline their stories and know the ending before they begin, and those who refuse to do so upon the theory that once a character is created he or she will do something interesting." "Why do writers suffer so much? / ... It's because the writing life is so undisciplined. There's no boss, no supervisor, no time clock to punch or hours to keep. Write in the morning, write at night. Drink when you want to." "Cable's Rules For Writing Fiction, a brilliant how-to guide put together by an expert who's read over four thousand books ... I hate prologues. I just finished a novel by a guy who's touring and will stop by next week. He always starts every book with the typical prologue, something dramatic like a killer stalking a woman or a dead body, then will leave the reader hanging, go to chapter 1, which, of course, has nothing to do with the prologue, then go to chapter 2, which, of course, has nothing to do with either chapter 1 or the prologue, then after about thirty pages slam the reader back to the action in the prologue, which by then has been forgotten ... Another rookie mistake is to introduce twenty characters in the first chapter. Five's enough and won't confuse your reader. Next, if you feel the need to go to the thesaurus, look for a word with three syllables or fewer. I have a nice vocabulary and nothing ticks me off more than a writer showing off with big words I've never seen before. Next, please use quotation marks with dialogue; otherwise it's bewildering. Rule Number Five: Most writers say too much, so always look for things to cut, like throwaway sentences and unnecessary scenes." "There should be a rule in publishing that debut novels are limited to three hundred pages, don't you think?"

  5. 4 out of 5

    j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

    I know it's been a few (several?) years since I read Grisham, but, my gosh, he has changed! Often accused of cranking out legal thrillers and following a specific formula, maybe he wanted to depart to a simpler, softer, more feminine style. If that was his intention, he succeeded! I found the subject matter very entertaining, otherwise I probably would not have finished it. The "mystery" not much of a mystery at all revolves around some stolen manuscripts that are worth millions in the literary w I know it's been a few (several?) years since I read Grisham, but, my gosh, he has changed! Often accused of cranking out legal thrillers and following a specific formula, maybe he wanted to depart to a simpler, softer, more feminine style. If that was his intention, he succeeded! I found the subject matter very entertaining, otherwise I probably would not have finished it. The "mystery" not much of a mystery at all revolves around some stolen manuscripts that are worth millions in the literary world. The reader gets to learn a bit about the black market as we follow the actual theft of F. Scott Fitzgerald's original Gatsby manuscript from Princeton University. We follow the stolen papers and see how they eventually end up on Camino Island, Florida, in the hands of Bruce Cable, a local bookstore owner. The story is light and entertaining IF you are interested in writing or literary history. Grisham provides tons of anecdotes about Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and others. He also has definite opinions on what makes a good book! He has a list of bulletpoints for anyone attempting to write fiction and it is really funny and spot on. The setting is beautiful and tropical and the writing is just as easy, breezy as you please. No hard hitting legalese to be found. A few interesting tidbits about FBI technological advances, but that's about it in the way of any procedural information. So, no cops or lawyers to speak of, just one English teacher/writer who goes undercover to try and bring down Bruce Cable. I wasn't a big fan of our girl, Mercer Mann. She thought she was so good at this spying job she fell into and she comes across as incredibly naive with a big ego at the same time. Weird. Hard to relate to or root for. I found Bruce very interesting and wish there was more of his story. I also could have done without all the romance stuff-ick. Romance in a Grisham novel? What's the world coming to?? The story is going along and all of a sudden, it's epilogue time and all over. It truly feels cut short and too abrupt. This could be a nice short book for the plane or the beach. But, only if you go in knowing there isn't a mystery or any "thriller" scenes typically found in a Grisham novel.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I enjoyed this more than some other recent John Grisham novels I have read. Many parts of it were 3 stars and many parts were 4 stars. I will compromise at 3.5 stars (but round up to 4 on the official scale – since I have been so harsh on Grisham lately!) The main appeal of this book is that books are central to the theme. Hardcore readers – which most of you probably are – will appreciate the discussion of bookstore business/politics, book values, first edition collecting, and book heists. All o I enjoyed this more than some other recent John Grisham novels I have read. Many parts of it were 3 stars and many parts were 4 stars. I will compromise at 3.5 stars (but round up to 4 on the official scale – since I have been so harsh on Grisham lately!) The main appeal of this book is that books are central to the theme. Hardcore readers – which most of you probably are – will appreciate the discussion of bookstore business/politics, book values, first edition collecting, and book heists. All of that was what kept me in this right up to the very end. The story was just okay – some of the plot points convenient and convoluted. It is fiction, so of course the author is making it up, but I want there to be at least some sense that the events are plausible. In this case, it seemed like any time Grisham wanted something to fit he would be like, “Well, it just so happens that over here is the exact thing we were discussing!” It’s a bit silly, but only mildly distracting. One thing I liked a lot compared to Grisham’s recent efforts is that it felt fresh and unique. Normally, it feels like he is using the same formula and it is getting stale. But, in this case the mystery was different than anything I have seen in one of his books before. Finally, I go back to one of the things that amuses me about Grisham the most. I feel like he plans his plot and scenes around food. I dare you to try and find a Grisham where he doesn’t mention what people are eating every few pages, characters are not planning a get together based around food, or the main character doesn’t stop of somewhere for beer and burgers to contemplate what just happened. It makes me laugh every time

  7. 3 out of 5

    Teresa

    I got like 140 pages in and did a lot of eye rolling, skipped ahead to read the ending and then rolled my eyes one last time and moved on.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Scott

    Every time I read a book by John Grisham, I am consistently reminded of what a great storyteller he is. His style is compact, direct and to the point, and pulls you in immediately. I wasn’t 10 pages into his new book “Camino Island” and I knew that I would be spending most of the day focused on reading it. The good news is that it was worth it. Rather than focusing on lawyers, it takes aim at the world of bookstores, publishing, and writers. It begins with a skillful heist of five John F. Fitzger Every time I read a book by John Grisham, I am consistently reminded of what a great storyteller he is. His style is compact, direct and to the point, and pulls you in immediately. I wasn’t 10 pages into his new book “Camino Island” and I knew that I would be spending most of the day focused on reading it. The good news is that it was worth it. Rather than focusing on lawyers, it takes aim at the world of bookstores, publishing, and writers. It begins with a skillful heist of five John F. Fitzgerald manuscripts from a secure vault below Princeton’s Firestone Library. The manuscripts end up in a secondary black market and a young female writer, Mercer Mann, is hired to go undercover an investigate a popular independent bookstore owner and prominent dealer in rare books that is thought to have or know who is in possession of the manuscripts. Using a background that is second nature to Grisham works well and provides interesting tidbits and name dropping throughout the book. As usual, Mercer is in over her head and the reader is right there with her. The plot develops fast and flows well. His prose is easy to read and take in as the pages meld together in a character driven adventure that captures your attention. Even though this book is one of his shorter ones (just under 300 pages), it is well worth the time. Overall, Grisham knows how to tell a story that readers enjoy. I especially appreciated his respectful name dropping of Stephen King, support for independent bookstores, a nice small shot at Amazon. The question to ask myself is whether I ever really read a bad Grisham book? Although some are better than others, the answer is no. All of them have been good, better, or best. If you’re honest, you are probably nodding your head right now. “Camino Island” is one of the better ones. Just try it.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Tim

    Seldom has such a good premise and beginning of a novel fallen as far and as fast as this. The story languishes with not one, but two inept agencies looking for perpetrators, despite apprehending some immediately. The weak and incomplete ending finishes this bottomless piece. 0 of 10 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joe Kellett

    This isn't a "John Grisham book", it's a bit of froth. It's starts off well with The Heist (that's not a spoiler it's the title of the first chapter). Then it descends into aimless meanderings among the colony of authors on the island. Almost zero suspense. Absolutely zero "thrills". The ending was phoned in. If you want an extremely gentle ride through the soporific world of book authors then it will be good I suppose. Otherwise grab a different Grisham book (I'm a huge fan by the way). To be fa This isn't a "John Grisham book", it's a bit of froth. It's starts off well with The Heist (that's not a spoiler it's the title of the first chapter). Then it descends into aimless meanderings among the colony of authors on the island. Almost zero suspense. Absolutely zero "thrills". The ending was phoned in. If you want an extremely gentle ride through the soporific world of book authors then it will be good I suppose. Otherwise grab a different Grisham book (I'm a huge fan by the way). To be fair I think Grisham was indeed trying for "something different". He succeeded. He found an audience for it obviously and that's great. I just wanted to give you a heads-up before you spend your bucks.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Paula Kalin

    Camino Island was a disappointment. This is really just a beach read. Not much substance. I really didn’t care for the audiobook. The narrator had an uninteresting voice and I didn’t like her style. Maybe the book was better to read rather than listening to? I continued on as it was only 7 cds. I’m giving up on Grisham. As everyone on Goodreads, my TBR list is extensive and there are many higher caliber books to get going on. 3 out of 5 stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Seldom has such a good premise and beginning of a novel fallen as far and as fast as this. The story languishes with not one, but two inept agencies looking for perpetrators, despite apprehending some immediately. The weak and incomplete ending finishes this bottomless piece. 0 of 10 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Monnie

    If I could change the title, I think I'd rename it Anatomy of a Heist. The writing is very matter-of-fact - nothing very thrilling or exciting - that begins with the theft of five one-of-a-kind F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the bowels of the Princeton University Firestone Library. From there, it follows the day-to-day (often minute-by-minute) lives of the thieves and those who want to find them and bring the manuscripts back to their rightful home. It's divided into sections, each of whic If I could change the title, I think I'd rename it Anatomy of a Heist. The writing is very matter-of-fact - nothing very thrilling or exciting - that begins with the theft of five one-of-a-kind F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the bowels of the Princeton University Firestone Library. From there, it follows the day-to-day (often minute-by-minute) lives of the thieves and those who want to find them and bring the manuscripts back to their rightful home. It's divided into sections, each of which details the relevant characters and events pretty much on a minute-by-minute basis. "The Heist," the opening section, brings readers an up-close-and-personal look at the robbers and how they planned the job and carried off the loot. "The Dealer" focuses on Bruce Cable, owner of a popular bookstore on Florida's Camino Island who collects rare books and, despite having a gorgeous French wife who deals in antiques, is quite the ladies' man. That's followed by "The Recruit," which introduces Mercer Mann, a semi-successful novelist and current teacher at the University of North Carolina. She's desperately trying to get out of a writing slump, hoping to get published and sell enough books to pay off her massive student loans and live the life of a successful writer. In earlier days, Mercer was a frequent visitor to Camino Island and thus is familiar with its small tourist town of Santa Rosa, where Bruce's bookstore is located. When powers-that-be suspect that Bruce somehow may be involved in the theft of the manuscripts, which are insured for a whopping $25 million, she's considered the perfect "spy" and is offered the job of getting close enough to Bruce to learn his secrets. What they're willing to pay for her services is mind-boggling; but she wonders if its worth selling her soul as a snitch. Even if she can get over that hump, does she have what it takes to convince Bruce that she's just a curious, temporary island resident who has an interest in old books? And what if it turns out that Bruce has no secrets at all? From there, the story unfolds bit by bit, section by section - always in a mostly narrative, little dialogue fashion. For readers, that means no nail-biting or edge-of-seat balancing, which may not sit all that well with those who demand knock-'em-dead action (nor will, perhaps, the lack of courtroom drama). But as with any writer worth his or her salt, the devil is in the details - and in that respect, Grisham is as good as it gets. It was fascinating to see how deftly he weaves together all the bits and pieces into the whole story that builds to the ending - which, as might be expected, is understated as well. Good job!

  14. 3 out of 5

    Jim

    While this was a much better book than Grisham's recent efforts (e.g. "Rogue Lawyer") it still is not at the same level as his earlier books (e.g. "A Time To Kill", "The Chamber"). In some ways this reminded me of "Gray Mountain". A female lead who is suddenly out of a job and finds herself in changed circumstances. This is not a thriller or page turner. This is not about race or the death penalty or any other theme to make you stop and think. This would make a nice beach read. The story opens wi While this was a much better book than Grisham's recent efforts (e.g. "Rogue Lawyer") it still is not at the same level as his earlier books (e.g. "A Time To Kill", "The Chamber"). In some ways this reminded me of "Gray Mountain". A female lead who is suddenly out of a job and finds herself in changed circumstances. This is not a thriller or page turner. This is not about race or the death penalty or any other theme to make you stop and think. This would make a nice beach read. The story opens with a gang of thieves staging a daring robbery from a secure vault below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot? Several F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts. The FBI is called in and despite a promising start the ring leader and manuscripts disappear. Bruce Cable owns a bookstore in the small resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He loves the business and especially loves rare books and first editions. Few people know he also deals in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. He has done very well and authors often stop by his store on book tours. Mercer Mann has recently been laid off from her teaching position at a North Carolina college. She has written one novel, which did well, and a collection of short stories but is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. She also has student loan debts which are difficult to pay off when employed. Just in time she is approached by a mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money and having her student debt paid off convinces Mercer to go undercover and get close to Bruce Cable. Close enough to him to learn his secrets. It seems Mercer spent summers during her childhood with her grandmother at a cottage on Camino Island. The cottage is still in the family and Mercer will go there to write a new, long overdue, novel. The ringleader in the theft from Princeton was never caught. It would appear that he made a quick deal to sell the stolen manuscripts but suddenly he is back. And wants the manuscripts. Despite a strong start to the story I found the ending was rather poor and disappointing. Despite this it was still an enjoyable read. Nothing too serious. No real theme or anything to think about. A nice story to read while on a beach somewhere.

  15. 3 out of 5

    James

    Allow the author to help with this review. Starting on page 237 to 238, one of his cardboard cutout characters, gives advice on how to right a good book/bestseller: "I'll give any book a hundred pages, and if by then the writer can't hold my attention i'll put it away. There are too many good books I want to read to waste time with a bad one." Geez. Should've taken this advice. What a boring, uneventful, tritely written .... well, what? Yeah. What was this? A thriller? A veiled hat tip to Grisham's Allow the author to help with this review. Starting on page 237 to 238, one of his cardboard cutout characters, gives advice on how to right a good book/bestseller: "I'll give any book a hundred pages, and if by then the writer can't hold my attention i'll put it away. There are too many good books I want to read to waste time with a bad one." Geez. Should've taken this advice. What a boring, uneventful, tritely written .... well, what? Yeah. What was this? A thriller? A veiled hat tip to Grisham's author friends? A romance? Not sure. Maybe a sedative before bedtime? Hmmmm. It's chock full of paper thin characters and most are not pleasant or interesting. They are TYPES. And he loves to end paragraphs with question marks ... queries by a character to herself/himself like: "Should I wear socks?". And he uses this at least twice not as words spoken by a character, but as art of his narrative: "GO, GIRL!" This plods along and has such a silly yawn of a climax. Grisham calls this his "beach read". More like a Beach Toss Into the Ocean. Read your suntan lotion bottle directions, instead.

  16. 5 out of 5

    William McLoughlin

    1. Grisham is one of my favorite authors. 2. I have read all 37 of his previous works listed in the front of this novel. 3. Every one of them has been a good story; many were great. 4. His characters, stories, and writing pull you right in and along. 5. I have hardcover copies of all of his works. 6. I usually purchase them the first day they go on sale. 7. I often read them in one sitting. 8. I read this one in one sitting and enjoyed it very much.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    As close to chicklit as Grisham could get (accomplished woman in dire straits is only person in the world who can help the FBI nail their man). But the writing is trademark crisp, and who wouldn't love a story where the mcguffin is the original manuscript for The Great Gatsby.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Wheeles

    I don't read alto of John Grisham, legal thrillers are not really my thing. But, this is more of a crime novel. It makes me realize, I may be missing out, Mr. Grisham is a great writer. I've seen the movies, but his books have eluded me. I loved everything about this story! It provided a look into a world I enjoy visiting, but know little about. This is a tale about book stores, books, and trafficking of stolen tomes and manuscripts. It's gripping, engaging, and quite entertaining. Grab a copy.. I don't read alto of John Grisham, legal thrillers are not really my thing. But, this is more of a crime novel. It makes me realize, I may be missing out, Mr. Grisham is a great writer. I've seen the movies, but his books have eluded me. I loved everything about this story! It provided a look into a world I enjoy visiting, but know little about. This is a tale about book stores, books, and trafficking of stolen tomes and manuscripts. It's gripping, engaging, and quite entertaining. Grab a copy... It delivers!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tooter

    4.5 Stars. It's been a long time since I've read John Grisham because the books all started to sound the same. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

  20. 3 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    In one of my book groups just now many of us have been feeling a bit in a book reading rut or slump lately, me included. I've had trouble focusing on books, but audiobooks usually keep me going. At all times I am reading an audiobook, a regular book, and an ebook. I know I said audiobooks have kept me in the groove, but John Grisham and Camino Island went above and beyond here. (And the other two books I'm reading right now appear to be above par for me as well, so hopefully, slump over -- ?!?! In one of my book groups just now many of us have been feeling a bit in a book reading rut or slump lately, me included. I've had trouble focusing on books, but audiobooks usually keep me going. At all times I am reading an audiobook, a regular book, and an ebook. I know I said audiobooks have kept me in the groove, but John Grisham and Camino Island went above and beyond here. (And the other two books I'm reading right now appear to be above par for me as well, so hopefully, slump over -- ?!?! 💃) This book had so much to pull me in, most of it about books and authors. F. Scott Fitzgerald's original manuscripts are stolen from Purdue's library, and it's suspected that one of them at least has ended up in a thriving bookstore on Camino Island. Struggling young author Mercer Mann is approached by a mysterious woman to move back to the island home she left many years ago following her grandmother's death, and to get to know the bookstore owner and other writers who live on the island. The hope is she can ascertain if he has the manuscripts so the feds can move in and retrieve them. Things then move along at a pretty good clip. I was almost thinking 5 stars but then a silly fling and a weak ending nixed it. But definitely still a solid 4 stars. I especially enjoyed one part where the bookstore owner offered his sage advice for debut authors, and here are a few of the tips that I can now recall and tend to agree with: Keep your first book under 300 pages, skip the prologue, keep the beginning narrative linear, and don't introduce too many characters in the first chapter. Coming from Grisham, I think budding authors should pay attention.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    Princeton University houses five valuable manuscripts--all the originals of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels. They are housed in the basement under a veil of security, but not enough to stop a band of clever thieves from breaking in and stealing them. This sets loose a chain of events and angers both the FBI, who is trying to track down the criminals, and the insurance company, as they are on the hook for $25 million unless the manuscripts are returned. Meanwhile, on touristy Camino Island, Bruce Ca Princeton University houses five valuable manuscripts--all the originals of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels. They are housed in the basement under a veil of security, but not enough to stop a band of clever thieves from breaking in and stealing them. This sets loose a chain of events and angers both the FBI, who is trying to track down the criminals, and the insurance company, as they are on the hook for $25 million unless the manuscripts are returned. Meanwhile, on touristy Camino Island, Bruce Cable runs a popular bookstore/coffee shop. Thanks to a lot of persistence and hard work, he's managed to keep it profitable even in the digital age. He's also a major backer of the many authors who come through his town on book tours. But few of those authors, or Bruce's patrons, know that Bruce keeps a vault in his shop housing a variety of rare books and manuscripts--some stolen. Finally, we turn to Mercer Mann--Mercer's just lost her teaching position, and she's three years overdue on delivering her next book to her publisher. She's also drowning in student loans. Mercer's approached by a beautiful and elegant woman who offers her a lot of money to get close to Bruce Cable and learn all about his web of secrets. Trouble, as you may guess, ensues. I have a soft spot for Grisham, that's for sure. I fell in love with his first novels as a young teen, and I still love Darby Shaw, Gray Grantham, Mark Sway, Reverend Roy, and Reggie Love as if they were real people. Grisham and his family have a home in my town, and we claim him as one of our own. His books are often an easy escape, and CAMINO ISLAND falls into that category. Is it as memorable as The Pelican Brief or The Client? No. Is it a fun diversion for a few days? Sure. CAMINO ISLAND is a change from most of Grisham's legal thrillers--there are no lawyers or court room scenes here, just some tricky criminals, a heist, and the aftermath. You'll need to keep track of the various bad guys in the beginning, but once you get past that, it's an easy breezy read--much like the Florida setting where most of the novel is set. Mercer's a pleasant, albeit not very complicated protagonist, and Bruce Cable is a trip. It's also a detailed exploration into the world of rare books--something I knew little to nothing about. Overall, this is fun, easy thriller. There are a few twists and turns along the way to keep you interested, and Grisham's characters are always enjoyable. The ending wraps up fairly quickly after all the build-up, so be prepared for that. Is it Grisham's best? No. But it will keep you entertained for a couple of days. 3.5 stars. You can read my reviews of Grisham's novels GRAY MOUNTAIN here and ROGUE LAWYER here. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Instagram

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael Slavin

    Book starts off great with a robbery of the Fitzgerald original manuscripts from Princeton, a very good action sequence. Then to me the story slowed down for a short while when it was setting up the rest of the book. But then it got very comfortable with a cozy pace in an environment of a group of authors in small seaside community and their local bookstore with the colorful owners who love authors. I so enjoyed their meetings, their suppers, and their conversation, I couldn't wait to get back an Book starts off great with a robbery of the Fitzgerald original manuscripts from Princeton, a very good action sequence. Then to me the story slowed down for a short while when it was setting up the rest of the book. But then it got very comfortable with a cozy pace in an environment of a group of authors in small seaside community and their local bookstore with the colorful owners who love authors. I so enjoyed their meetings, their suppers, and their conversation, I couldn't wait to get back and see what happened next. And as a backdrop, you are put into the world of the illegal trading of valuable first editions of books. This was book was different. I really enjoyed it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This is the first book I've been sent of the Litsy #whodunitbymail book swap. I feel like prior to my review I should say that I read very little mystery and crime, and joined the book swap to get exposed to more. I associate John Grisham pretty exclusively with courtroom drama, particularly those made into films. When a good friend in college was taking advanced acting, I heard a certain monologue from A Time to Kill more times than I care to admit. And I'm not sure if I've ever sat and read a b This is the first book I've been sent of the Litsy #whodunitbymail book swap. I feel like prior to my review I should say that I read very little mystery and crime, and joined the book swap to get exposed to more. I associate John Grisham pretty exclusively with courtroom drama, particularly those made into films. When a good friend in college was taking advanced acting, I heard a certain monologue from A Time to Kill more times than I care to admit. And I'm not sure if I've ever sat and read a book by the author, actually. Instead of the courtroom, the focus is on the sometimes underhanded and/or illegal black market elements of the rare book trade. You may not think this is the most thrilling subject matter, and unfortunately, I'm not sure Grisham convinces me otherwise. From the start of the novel, the reader knows how some manuscripts were stolen, but not the journey they have made. Then a character named Mercer is introduced, a writer who has not yet made her living from her writing and has been working in poverty as an adjunct, and has recently lost her job. She is hired to help with the investigation because of her ties to Camino Island (she used to spend summers there.) And this, for me, is where the author and I disagreed on the point of the book. I was more interested in Mercer's story, and the author was more interested in Bruce Cable, the bookstore owner on Camino Island. Camino Island, by the way, is a fictional island north of Jacksonville, GA. Since this is a part of the south I love, I could still picture it, although it is remarkably empty during summer workdays compared to other places around there that I have been. Empty enough for sea turtles to lay eggs (which I think the author wanted to fit in) and for Mercer to have some super secret interactions with others. Oh hey. That makes me wonder whatever happened to the guy who jogged every day. (view spoiler)[And wow! There is a couple with an open relationship! And of course he sleeps with the writer despite there being zero sparks between them.... I think the author just wanted to write a scenario where this was working with no drama, which makes me think he's trying to convince his significant other that it can work. HA. (hide spoiler)] I took great pleasure in the portrayal of academics in such a high stakes investigation. The head of the manuscript collection at Princeton reflecting that he has never before been asked to meet with the President! The seeming critiques of the library's flawed security process when in reality it is probably even less careful than Grisham imagines it. The sober truths about the treatment of adjuncts. This is probably a fun beach read, because it is light, and set on a beach.

  24. 4 out of 5

    J Reed Rich

    A disappointment. I usually love Grisham's stuff, although I haven't read anything of his in awhile. Maybe this is typical of his later works. The setting was interesting, and some of the details about rare book collecting were informative. However, the characters were flat, the plot weak, and the suspense almost nonexistent. The POV wavered, which was annoying. All telling, no showing.

  25. 3 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    4 stars There is not a lot that I can say about John Grisham that I have not already said in other reviews. He is one of my favorite authors. I especially like his attorney/crime novels, however this particular book is not status quo. This book does contain a crime - but no court room and the criminals, prisoners and attorneys are mentioned briefly. I am not a fan of most of Grisham's non-legal novels, however I did enjoy this one. It seems that crime does sometimes pay. The theft of some origin 4 stars There is not a lot that I can say about John Grisham that I have not already said in other reviews. He is one of my favorite authors. I especially like his attorney/crime novels, however this particular book is not status quo. This book does contain a crime - but no court room and the criminals, prisoners and attorneys are mentioned briefly. I am not a fan of most of Grisham's non-legal novels, however I did enjoy this one. It seems that crime does sometimes pay. The theft of some originals manuscripts written by F. Scott Fitzgerald are stolen out the locked vault at the Princeton University Firestone Library. A young novelist goes under cover in an attempt to recover the lost manuscripts, which have fallen into the hands of a charming charismatic book shop owner.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I really enjoyed this Grisham novel. I listened to the audio and the narrator did a fabulous job which only increased my enjoyment. So if the page version is not working for you, try the audio. I particularly liked the ending. Any other ending I think would have punctured the whole story. There were so many things to like about this one: the dialogue, the characters and their development, the setting, and the story line. This was all woven together nicely. So 4 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    3.5* This isn’t like a lot of Grisham’s other books but it was still enjoyable in my opinion. I loved the plot centering on the heist of first edition manuscripts by Fitzgerald. I believe a lot of readers will like the literary history but if you’re looking for the Grisham legal thriller then you might want to look further. This is more adult fiction than legal thriller. My quick and simple overall: entertaining and a change from the legal thrillers. Grisham is the type of author who has the abil 3.5* This isn’t like a lot of Grisham’s other books but it was still enjoyable in my opinion. I loved the plot centering on the heist of first edition manuscripts by Fitzgerald. I believe a lot of readers will like the literary history but if you’re looking for the Grisham legal thriller then you might want to look further. This is more adult fiction than legal thriller. My quick and simple overall: entertaining and a change from the legal thrillers. Grisham is the type of author who has the ability to write different things so obviously it is still pretty good.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Marialyce

    This was a quick, easy read and quite typical of the recent Grisham novels. This time Mr Grisham tackles the theft of the F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Firestone Library at Princeton University. It pits the FBI, the insurance company, and others against the thieves and the book dealer who winds up with the stolen manuscripts. Good fun is achieved as we read of the interplay between a very clever book dealer, his wife, authors, and other residents of Camino Island where the bulk of the This was a quick, easy read and quite typical of the recent Grisham novels. This time Mr Grisham tackles the theft of the F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Firestone Library at Princeton University. It pits the FBI, the insurance company, and others against the thieves and the book dealer who winds up with the stolen manuscripts. Good fun is achieved as we read of the interplay between a very clever book dealer, his wife, authors, and other residents of Camino Island where the bulk of the action takes place.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Humphreys

    Very disappointed in this book. Doesn't come close to being as good as any of his other books. It seemed as I was reading a book by someone posing as Grisham. Character development was poor at best. I look forward to another book written up to his abilities.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy H

    I wasn't sure where this plot was going, but it was an interesting jaunt through the story of stolen manuscripts, unscruulous book dealers, an innocent young woman deeply in debt, a couple with an open marriage and successful businesses, and a story with some surprises at the end. I liked it.

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