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Law in Popular Culture

Plot in New Grisham Novel Is Based on Criminal Procedural Rule

Posted Oct 22, 2012 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is central to John Grisham’s new book, The Racketeer.

Rule 35 allows federal defendants to get their sentences reduced if they provide “substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.” The book’s main character, convicted ex-lawyer Malcolm Bannister, seeks to use the rule to his advantage, the New York Times reports.

Bannister claims to have information on the murder of a federal judge after he is sent to jail for racketeering. The conviction is the result of his firm’s legal work on a real-estate deal, and he never knowingly violated the law. In exchange for his help, Bannister wants out of prison and a new identity aided by plastic surgery.

“Almost in passing,” the Times says, “The Racketeer illustrates varied ways to circumvent the FBI, to violate financial regulations and to prove that crime just might pay.”

The Times says Grisham writes “with rekindled vigor” and suggests a reason why. “Perhaps that’s because he hasn’t mired this book in excessive research,” the review says.

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