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by John Grisham
Doubleday, June 2024
295 pages
ISBN: 0385545991

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

John Grisham's third Camino Island novel features bookstore owner Bruce Cable urging best-selling author Mercer Mann to read a self-published book by Lovely Jackson. CAMINO GHOSTS turns out to be two stories intertwined by history and legal drama.

Lovely Jackson is a descendant of several generations of slaves who took up living on the Dark Isle and is the basis of her book, The Dark History of the Dark Isle. Mercer decides to seek Lovely's cooperation in using the woman's history and stories for a new book. Grisham details the plight of Nalla, kidnaped from a village in Africa and taken by ship to America, where she was raped by one of the slave traders. The oral history of her life, including her adoption of witchcraft and curses, is detailed in alternating chapters of the book.

The second story involves a lawsuit about who owns Dark Isle. Tidal Breeze, a developer of questionable ethics, approaches Florida to buy Dark Isle to develop a casino and resort on the island. Since Lovely maintains that she owns the island and won't sell it, environmental lawyer Steve Mahon takes her case to prove her ownership and preserve the small island.

Grisham writes a taut legal drama as Mahon organizes his proof supporting Lovely's ownership including property tax payments Lovely made every year since 1964 that Florida refused and refunded, writing that "Dark Isle is not on the county's tax roll, so no taxes are due."

Lovely, in her mid-80s, makes for a provocative witness, and the courtroom drama is compelling Grisham. It isn't easy to decide which of the two stories is the more riveting, but Grisham's storytelling prowess is in its finest form.

Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton's, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, June 2024

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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