| 1. Introduction|
The Racketeer is a legal thriller novel written by John Grisham that was released on October 23, 2012 by Doubleday with an initial printing of 1.5 million copies. It was one of the best selling books of 2012 and spent several weeks atop various best seller lists.
2. Plot Summary
The protagonist Malcolm Bannister, an African American and former United States Marine, had been an attorney in a modest Virginia small-town law firm. A real estate transaction which he undertook in good faith turned out to have involved the purchase of a secluded hunting lodge where a crooked Capitol Hill lobbyist invited corrupt Congressmen for booze and drug-fueled orgies with underage girls. When the scandal was exposed, Bannister was caught up in a large FBI sweep, and his name was added to many others on a 100-page racketeering charge sheet as his protestations of innocence were ignored. He was charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), convicted, and given a 10-year prison term. The plot starts five years later with Bannister half way through his term; he has since been disbarred, divorced by his wife, lost contact with his son, and is nursing a bitter grudge against the Federal Government in general and the FBI in particular. He gets his chance when the brutal murder of a federal judge, Judge Fawcett, and of the judge's mistress makes headlines in the media, and the FBI investigation goes nowhere.  Bannister knows the killer's identity and motive, what the judge's safe had contained, as well as the judge's hidden corruption.
He convinces the FBI to offer him a deal which will set him free as well as make him a member of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program, in return for information leading to the indictment of the murderer. He tells the FBI that Quinn Rucker, a drug dealer he met in prison, had escaped and murdered Judge Fawcett as revenge for a failed bribery attempt in which the judge took half a million dollars but didn't follow through on his end of the deal. He provides information on the whereabouts of Quinn, who is arrested, confesses to the crime, and is indicted. However, it is revealed later that Quinn is not the murderer, and Bannister is aware of this.
After Quinn's indictment, Bannister is released and given a new face and identity, Max Reed Baldwin. After the FBI discovers that Rucker's gang knows Bannister's whereabouts and is seeking revenge, Bannister leaves the program and goes off the radar. He sets up a fake film company, called Skelter Films, and proceeds to locate another man he had met in prison, Nathan Cooley. Bannister contacts Nathan and asks him to take part in the filming of a documentary about corruption in the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI. Thanks to the Witness Protection Program, Bannister ensures that Nathan is unaware of his real identity, and succeeds in winning his confidence and landing him in prison in Jamaica by drugging him while he's on a private plane and planting cocaine, a handgun, and a fake passport in his luggage.
It is revealed that Nathan is in fact the real killer, and that he stole approximately $8.5 million worth of gold from the judge who had taken it from a mining company, Armanna Mines, in exchange for a favourable ruling giving them permission to mine uranium in the region. Bannister tricks Nathan into giving him the location of the money and steals it. Meanwhile, charges are dropped against Rucker after it is found he has an alibi, and it is revealed that they have been working together in order to steal the money Bannister learned about in prison. Bannister trades the identity of the real killer in exchange for immunity and tells the FBI to investigate the bribery that took place between Judge Fawcett and Armanna Mines.
The novel ends with Bannister celebrating with the Rucker family in his new house in Antigua, with all the gold.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox 2000 and New Regency agreed in February 2013 to develop a film adaptation of The Racketeer. They have signed on director Daniel Espinosa who previously directed Safe House, which starred Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. When the book was first released in October, Washington was mentioned as a possibility to play the lead role of Malcolm Bannister in a film adaptation. Grisham hoped that Washington would play the role and many of his contacts encouraged him to pursue Denzel saying, he has "got to get Denzel!". However, on the potential of Washington being involved, Grisham has commented "nobody has heard from Denzel. And I learned a long time ago, you never get the one you want. You can never get the right actor.