The Rooster Bar
by John Grisham
Reviewed by Robert M. Jarvis
John Grisham, the criminal lawyer-turned-novelist, likes writing about law students in trouble. In The Firm (1991), Mitch McDeere, a Harvard University law student, nearly lost his life after discovering his new employer was a mob front. In The Pelican Brief (1992), Darby Shaw, a Tulane University law student, was forced to go on the run after she figured out who killed two U.S. Supreme Court justices. In The Rainmaker (1995), University of Memphis law student Rudy Baylor had his only job offer rescinded just before graduation, leaving him no choice but to work as an ambulance chaser. And in The Associate (2009), Kyle McAvoy, a Yale University law student, was blackmailed into stealing confidential information.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the protagonists in The Rooster Bar (2017), Grisham's 25th novel, are three down-and-out law students: Mark Frazier, Todd Lucero, and Zola Maal. The trio are classmates at Foggy Bottom Law School (FBLS), a for-profit law school in Washington, D.C., owned by a rapacious investor, Hinds Rackley. FBLS is one of seven for-profit law schools that Rackley controls, and he uses them to generate huge profits by convincing naive students to take out crushing student loans.
When Gordon Tanner, another FBLS student, realizes he will never earn enough as a lawyer to pay off his debts, he kills himself. To avenge their friend's death, Frazier, Lucero, and Maal decide to blackmail Rackley. They also drop out of FBLS, despite being just a few months from graduation, and begin practicing law...