Book review: ‘The Whistler’ by John Grisham


Sheltering in place and a closed public library likely means you are running out of books. Taking a cue from the Ontario Public Library news, I downloaded the Libby app ( It’s an unlimited source of e-books and audio books to borrow that you may use on your computer or handheld device. You’ll need your library card. The John Grisham book reviewed here is the result of Libby.

Florida’s Board of Judicial Conduct (BJC) was, just as the name implied, a legal entity that sought to discipline misconduct by judges in Florida’s court system. Judges were not immune to the human frailties. Lacy Stolzand and Hugo Hatch were investigators for the BJC. They were lawyers, not law enforcement.

Through a complicated series of events, they learned that a judge in a southern Florida county was being accused of taking skimmed money from an Indian casino for favorable legal rulings, rulings that had survived several appeals. Not only that, but the skimming was apparently being masterminded by a close-knit gang called the Coast Mafia. Questionable judges they could deal with, but a mafia?

The appropriate route with potential mafia involvement would be to turn the accusations over to the FBI. But the FBI now focused almost exclusively on counterterrorism and cybercrime. It would take more than accusations provided by a mole for the FBI to become involved. Lacy was the first to learn of the accusations. She had been called by the mysterious Greg Myers. He explained that he was working with an intermediary who was the contact with the nameless mole.

The information being provided was both credible and disturbing. While the rulings had withstood several challenges, many were suspect because they all facilitated the original casino, golf course and condo development that followed it. And other than the original casino, all were property of outside interests.

Arranging for the casino on native American land had been a difficult process. The Tappacola were a small tribe with a small reservation. Over time, the land around it was purchased and added until an appropriate site was included. Since a casino amounted to development, it was not difficult to get the county on board.

But the Tappacola were split about gambling, and the first vote went against it. When one of the opposition leaders was murdered in a compromising situation and another was sent to prison on trumped-up charges, the second vote passed by a significant margin. And now tribe members received a monthly check and conditions on the reservation were vastly improved. The supposedly skimmed money didn’t seem to be missed, and there was little opposition to the casino.

Greg Myers signed a complaint against the judge, so the claim had to be investigated. When Stacy received a call from a potential informant, a midnight meeting deep in the reservation was arranged. Lacy and Hugo were forced into a head-on collision with a truck twice the size of Lacy’s Prius. Hugo was killed and Lacy severely injured. Not long after, Greg Myers disappeared and was presumed dead. There was just too much. The FBI became involved.

Even with FBI involvement, the case is not easy to solve. The Feds had limited jurisdiction on the reservation. The Coast Mafia was a small, well-organized gang. The judge had a time-proven system. The identity of the mole become known to the mafia. And Lacy couldn’t let go of a case where her partner and friend has been murdered.

It takes all of John Grisham’s skill and imagination to bring this mystery together.


Comments are closed.

  • Man injured in rollover crash in Ontario

    12 hours ago

    Ontario emergency services responded to a rollover crash Thursday afternoon on Highway 33, north of the intersection with County Highway ZZ.

    Storms cause widespread damage

    15 hours ago

    Severe thunderstorms rolled through the area Tuesday evening, toppling trees and causing wind damage.

    Book review: ‘The Bookseller’ by Cynthia Swanson

    June 3rd, 2020

    Thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller is perfectly happy with her life. It’s the ‘60s, and except for the Cuba thing, life is good.

    Ontario Farmers Market to continue every Thursday

    June 2nd, 2020

    The Ontario Farmers Market opened for the season May 28.

    Norwalk Public Library to reopen June 8

    June 2nd, 2020

    The Norwalk Public Library will reopen Monday, June 8, with several restrictions in place.

  • Joint Brookwood/Wilton blood drive is Saturday

    June 2nd, 2020

    The cosponsors of the June 6 Red Cross blood drive in Wilton are the Brookwood High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) student club and the Wilton Area Community Drive.

    Book review: ‘Money in the Morgue’ by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy

    May 27th, 2020

    When the story opens, Detective Chief-Inspector Alleyn, of the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) of Scotland Yard, is in New Zealand on a secret mission.

    Tri-Parish to begin offering Masses on Pentecost weekend

    May 27th, 2020

    Public Masses are coming again! Bishop Callahan has given permission for weekend Mass to once again be offered publicly beginning on Pentecost weekend, May 30–31.

    Book review: ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

    May 21st, 2020

    To properly appreciate “Northanger Abbey,” you must realize that the gothic novel (atmosphere of mystery and horror) was being widely read at the time Austen wrote the novel. It is commonly accepted that it was written as satire to that format.

    Brookwood senior parade is Friday

    May 18th, 2020

    Friday, May 22, would have been Brookwood High School students’ graduation ceremony, and to recognize our seniors, we’re hosting a senior parade Friday night.

    Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District will offer pick-up/drop-off dates for student materials

    May 15th, 2020

    The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District will have pick-up/drop-off days for student materials from May 28–30.

  • Archives