I have read most of Grisham’s books, and this was by far his best. He is a master of banging out formulaic court room thrillers with little or no depth and few memorable characters. In this book Grisham manages to touch on the depth of racism in the deep south, write some likeable but flawed characters, tug on any father’s heart strings (any father would agree with Carl Lee Hailey’s actions, at least in part), and do the court room thriller thing.
I am referring to the three that Ludlum actually wrote, not the series continuations by Eric Van Lustbader, which are terrible. Most people would be more familiar with the movies starring Matt Damon, which are also thoroughly entertaining. Thankfully, the books are only loosely similar to the movies. This means you can enjoy both without ruining the other. The books have a similar feel to the movies in terms of action and suspense and intrigue, but, because they are books, have far more detail and character interaction. Ludlum is also a pretty formulaic author, but these books are him at his thriller best.
This is the first of Archer’s books that I read and that is why I enjoyed it most. He is a better story teller than many other pulp fiction writers, but even his books tend to mostly feel and read the same way. Archer is a champion of the many-main-character, final-big-plot-twist kind of novel. Think Guy Ritchie movie without the weird camera angles and music and with much less swearing.
The movie was a cinematic masterpiece. The book was a pulp fiction masterpiece. It was such good pulp fiction it was almost a literary work of art. If you have seen the movie you know the gist, but the book is so much more intricate and suspense ful and characters are so much more colorful. Unfortunately this is the only one of Puzo’s books about which these things are true.
Deaver is probably best known for his Lincoln Rhyme novels, but those are a lot like the show CSI: if you partake in more than 3 you know how all the rest will end. Garden of Beasts is a different flavor of story set in a different time (pre WW2) and place (Germany). It is actually a creative idea executed pretty well. It is certainly an enjoyable read.