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Camino Winds


Camino Winds

Several years ago, John Grisham --- whose name is synonymous with courtroom fiction --- decided to take a brief break from the law, greedy attorneys and wicked judges to offer the literary world a different style of mystery novel.

CAMINO ISLAND was an interesting whodunit set primarily in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on tiny Camino Island off the Florida coast. It introduced readers to Bruce Cable, the owner of an independent bookstore and dealer in rare books, and Mercer Mann, a young author struggling to complete her second novel. Bruce and Mercer’s paths crossed as they searched for the stolen manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald, taken from their sanctuary at Princeton University. It was an enjoyable change of pace, and after revisiting the legal world for his next three books --- THE ROOSTER BAR, THE RECKONING and THE GUARDIANS --- Grisham has come back to Camino Island.

"The simple becomes complex, the first clues lead to more clues, and an intriguing plot with a wild cast of characters unfolds on the pages of CAMINO WINDS."

However, the real star of CAMINO WINDS is Mother Nature in the form of Hurricane Leo, a meandering storm of epic proportion that wanders in the Atlantic Ocean for several days before finally heading inland and crossing Camino Island, leaving behind death and devastation. Before landfall, Grisham introduces readers to a cast of characters, some returning from the first novel and some new to the plot. Mercer has conquered her writer’s block and written a bestseller. After completing her next novel, she has embarked upon a national book tour that will conclude with a reading and signing of the book at Bruce’s Bay Books.

With the hurricane changing direction, the governor orders an evacuation of the island, though many residents decide to ride out the storm. Leo scores a direct hit, leveling houses, condos, hotels and businesses. Parts of the island are flooded, and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce who had written several spy thrillers. Nelson’s death appears to have been an accident, but Bruce, mystery author J. Andrew Cobb and Bay Books intern/mystery buff Nick Sutton spot some clues that suggest a more sinister explanation.

Camino Island is not a hotbed of crime; in fact, no one can recall the last time a homicide occurred there. The police department is ill-equipped to begin anything remotely resembling a competent investigation. The Bay Books trio undertake their own investigation before seeking the assistance of Florida state authorities, private investigators and finally the FBI. One area of inquiry focuses on Nelson’s recently completed novel, which has not even been sold to a publisher. Did something in that manuscript lead to his death? Grisham readers will recognize what happens next. The simple becomes complex, the first clues lead to more clues, and an intriguing plot with a wild cast of characters unfolds on the pages of CAMINO WINDS.

In some ways, this is standard Grisham fare. Some important social issues are raised, and his characters occasionally step on the soapbox to decry injustice and evil in society. Of course, as expected in the end, the good guys triumph.

The final mystery of CAMINO WINDS is whether or not Grisham will be coming back to Camino Island for more adventures. He appears to welcome the opportunity to promote independent bookstores and their importance for authors and readers, so another installment seems likely. But hopefully it will be after he returns to the courtroom, where his fans fully enjoy his undertakings.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on May 1, 2020

Camino Winds
by John Grisham

  • Publication Date: April 28, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385545932
  • ISBN-13: 9780385545938