21 May 2008

The Perk (Mark Gimenez)

Available at all good bookstores, courtesy of Penguin Books South Africa

Mark Gimenez has been touted as 'the next Grisham' - which excited the hell out of me, as I adore Grisham (when he sticks to his formula, that is, and stays away from unwelcome and unexpected gallops towards painted houses, pizza and bizarrely, bleachers).

But as I devoured Gimenez' third offering, The Perk, I realised that the similarities between the two writers are superficial (backwater settings, rural justice, strange characters, patent racism and unimaginative titles starting with 'The'), while the differences are major.

For one, The Perk contains more genuine heartbreak, more realistic feeling and more children than any of Grisham's legal masterpieces. For another, the former is not as much a courtroom thriller as it is a tale about people that unfolds in and around the legal system.

...as much as there is a legal system in one-goat Fredericksburg. Finally, The Perk has more twists, more turns and - admittedly - more cheap shots, than Grisham is known for.

It's about Beck Hardin - recently bereaved and utterly bereft - who returns to his hometown with his two young kids and finds it completely changed. Pushed into running for district judge, he unleashes a chain of disturbing events (and a pack of rabid white-collar 'old boys').

In sum, The Perk is a well-considered, well-plotted, well-penned novel that I munched in one shot, and it has turned me on to seeking out this author's first two novels. But positioning it as a Grisham-esque opus, in my mind, did it no justice - if you'll pardon the...


1 comment:

Ceme Knits said...

We don't get The Perk here in the United States until July, but I just recently purchased, and finished in two days, Color of Law and can honestly say, I'm hooked on Mark Gimenez. COL was fresh and fast-paced. If you loved Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, you'll love COL. I hope you enjoy! I can't wait to read The Perk, but first Abduction.

Thanks for the review.


P.S. JG is one of my favorites as well and I agree, he should stick to what's good for him, no pizza and horses is right.