This was a totally different kind of fiction from Grisham. Being a bit of a fan of his work, when I saw this in the store, I purchased it without even reading the blurb. It wasn't till I started reading the next day that I realised it wasn't his usual type of crime thriller.
The story starts with a heist, not of jewels or money but of priceless manuscripts. Five guys, each with their own areas of expertise, plan and execute the heist at Princeton University with meticulous organisation, except that, due to one slip up, in a short time, most have been caught, but the manuscripts are still missing. It is not unlike the Oceans movies, with this one small difference – they think they have pulled it all off but most actually get caught within a few days.
The plot revolves around a female writer, Mercer Mann, so far with one book under her belt, wanting to change professions and write full time. She is in the doldrums, struggling to make ends meet financially and to a certain extent, also finding it difficult to come up with viable ideas for a book.
She returns to her childhood summer vacation spot not only to enjoy the more relaxed beach life and help ideas flow, but to be offered a chance to make at least her financial issues disappear, by being employed by the FBI. They need her to meet up with a local book dealer, Bruce Kable and basically spy on him, doing anything she feels comfortable with to get him in her confidence. Mercer deliberates over the ethics of the situation but eventually relents, realising she needs the money.
The FBI have Intel that Bruce has procured the stolen manuscripts, and conscript her to learn all about him and his vault. He and his wife own businesses on the island and Bruce takes a fancy to Mercer and all goes to plan, or does it? Bruce and his wife lead a rather unconventional married life and their book and antiques stores are intermingled in their lives. Will the manuscripts be retrieved after such careful planning and Mercer's information?
Grisham is a master of the hook and twist, and though this is not his usual topic area, Camino Island is orchestrated beautifully, and had me hanging on right till the end. It's been a long time, even with some of his more recent books, that I've sat down and read a book in only a few days, enthralled right to the end. I can thoroughly recommend this one.