John Grisham keeps on being Grisham. Like some of his other more recent books, Grisham departs from the legal thriller genre to a more low-key crime drama. In Camino Island, a group of theives pull off a well-executed heist of orginal manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels. The FBI is on the case, and follows the trail to Camino Island, where an independent book store owner has a side trade in rare books and manuscripts. Word is that he has possession of the Fitzgerald manuscripts.
Enter Mercer Mann, who grew up visiting her grandmother on Camino Island. She's an novelist who, despite initial success, hasn't published in a while, and who recently lost her college teaching position. A private security firm hires her to establish a relationship with the bookseller in hopes of learing about the manuscripts. So begins her stint as a literary spy.
In true Grisham fashion, the story is simple, with just enough clues left and questions left unanswered to keep you wondering and guessing. On one level, it's pretty obvious where the story is going. On the level that counts, though, you know that Grisham won't just leave it at the obvious.
I enjoyed Camino Island, including the insider's talk about the world of writing, of independent bookstores, and the business of publishing. Grisham's sense of humor, great characters, and perfect pacing move the story along nicely. I will say this one's a little thinner than some of his more intense books, and it leaves a few loose ends unsatisfactorily flailing, but for the most part it's a perfect read for your next vacation to Camino Island or any other beach.