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Review: The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham

Title: The Boys From Biloxi

Author: John Grisham
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (legal thriller)
Pages: 464 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (MS)

SummaryJohn Grisham returns to Mississippi with the riveting story of two sons of immigrant families who grow up as friends, but ultimately find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Grisham’s trademark twists and turns will keep you tearing through the pages until the stunning conclusion.

For most of the last hundred years, Biloxi was known for its beaches, resorts, and seafood industry. But it had a darker side. It was also notorious for corruption and vice, everything from gambling, prostitution, bootleg liquor, and drugs to contract killings. The vice was controlled by small cabal of mobsters, many of them rumored to be members of the Dixie Mafia.
Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco grew up in Biloxi in the sixties and were childhood friends, as well as Little League all-stars. But as teenagers, their lives took them in different directions. Keith’s father became a legendary prosecutor, determined to “clean up the Coast.” Hugh’s father became the “Boss” of Biloxi’s criminal underground. Keith went to law school and followed in his father’s footsteps. Hugh preferred the nightlife and worked in his father’s clubs. The two families were headed for a showdown, one that would happen in a courtroom.
Life itself hangs in the balance in The Boys from Biloxi, a sweeping saga rich with history and with a large cast of unforgettable characters.

Review: Another Grisham! This man is prolific and so far I've enjoyed all his books that I've read (though some more than others with Grey Mountain my favorite). This one was a bit different from what I expected. It worked for me, but not as much as his other ones.

This story felt a bit like a series of gangster stories from the 1920s through the 1970s. Multiple generations of gambling, drinking/bootlegging, prostitution, and killings. I did think it was interesting that during prohibition, Biloxi was an area that did all the illegal things and no one got in much trouble. 

The story picked up for me after about 230 pages when it was more recent and the divergent storylines started to collide and solidify. Up until that point, it feels a bit like it was giving background so that the reader could fully appreciate the culminating story. I think Grisham is better at lawyer/courtroom drama than he is at gangster stuff so the second half of the book is better as he enters that part of the story.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Big Book Summer Challenge
  • Literary Escapes--Mississippi

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