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Posted: November 29, 2020

The Rooster Bar is vintage Grisham

Book Review

By Derryll White

Grisham, John (2017).  The Rooster Bar.

Remember back a ways! Out of college, what are you going to do? In the U.S. the government made huge student loans available to students enrolling in preferred professions, such as law.  As a result for-profit law schools sprang up and Gordy, Mark, Todd and Zola enrolled. The promised future dimmed as the job market crumbled, and each weas carrying about $250,000 in student debt.

This story rolls through the familiar U.S. worlds of law and high finance.  The law students expose banking and education scams that affect people in high places. If a reader has some questions about the legitimacy of U.S. banking, or the promissory role of higher education in today’s economy, then this is definitely the novel to read. ‘The Rooster Bar’ flies in the face of the common constructs that support our view of the world.

There is a side story that examines U.S. deportation laws and the abuse inflicted on illegal immigrants. It is a sad picture of people trying to better themselves and falling prey to unthinking and inhumane bureaucracy.

This is a very entertaining read. Grisham as always, and as he claims in the spirit of Mark Twain, plays fast and loose with the legal stuff. The story itself jumped into reality from an investigative reporter’s piece titled “The law School Scam.” The writing is vintage Grisham.

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Excerpts from the novel:

ICE – “According to the Post, Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintains fifteen detention centers around the country and on any given day there are about 35,000 people in custody.  Last year ICE detained over 400,000 undocumented workers and deported about the same number, at a cost of over $20,000 per deportee.  The entire detention system eats over $2 billion a year.  It’s the largest immigrant detention system in the world.

BANKING – “So let’s say you, Todd, walk into your local Swift branch and open a routine checking account.  You deposit a thousand dollars, get some cute little temporary checks, all is swell and you really liked the pretty accounts manager, who was super friendly.  Well, once you leave, she turns into a crooked little bitch and opens some more accounts for you.  A savings account, or two, a money-market account, a credit card, a debit card, maybe even a brokerage account.  Instead of just one Swift account, you actually have seven.  She gets a bonus, a pat on the back, good girl.  You know nothing about the other six accounts, but good ole Swift sticks you for a few extra bucks each month in mysterious fees to cover the accounts.”

DEPORTATION – … she thought of her parents and brother locked away like prisoners in a miserable detention center, awaiting removal.  Her view was majestic, with every building and monument a symbol of unbridled freedom.  Their view, if they had one, was of fencing and razor wire.  Because of their sacrifice, she had been given the gift of citizenship, a permanent status she had done nothing to earn.  They had worked like dogs in a country they were proud of, with the dream of one day belonging.  How, exactly, would their removal benefit this great nation of immigrants?  It made no sense and seemed unjustly cruel.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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