Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer's block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable's circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets. But eventually Mercer learns far too much.
Camino Island is different. It's set primarily at the beach (which is great for summertime reading, whether or not one actually is at the beach) ... and the story involves authors, bookstores, rare books& manuscripts, an Ivy League library, and of course a few book thieves trying to outwit those who trail them. Plus, I found the ending to be quite satisfying. My only complaint is that I finished the book so quickly -- I would have enjoyed being in that world longer!
The plot is simple but there are a few edge of the seat moments and the characters are good. I think anyone that likes his books will be pleased with this one.
I liked all the literary references in the book and I liked the ‘sense of place’ of Bay Books Bookstore, the Princeton campus and the Camino Island, Florida, area.
I wasn’t satisfied, however, with how the plot developed. There weren’t enough details or descriptions - of the manuscripts changing hands; the aftermath of several murders; the whole writing desk scenario; the personalities of the main characters. I have to say that I didn’t really warm up to any of the characters and wasn’t concerned about their futures. Mercer, especially, didn’t have a developed personality and Bruce Cable, Noelle, Elaine and Camino Island residents were personality-challenged as well. The ending was extremely unsatisfying.
I do like Grisham’s writing style and I like a book with literary references and day-to-day workings of a bookstore. A pleasant read, but not a great one.
In most cases where rare artifacts are stolen, the person ordering the theft plans to return the objects after receiving a large ransom. The manuscripts were insured for $25 million but the insurance company wanted to get them back rather than pay the claim or ransom.
We next learn about Bruce Cabot, a bookseller who, when he was an unsettled 23- year- old, received a $300,000 inheritance when his father died before cutting him out of his will, as he had often threatened. “Some ancient relative had made a fortune in gravel, and, following bad legal advice, had set up a scheme of misguided and complicated trusts that had strewn money over generations of undeserving kinfolks.” He decided to become a book seller and specialized in rare older classic books. He collected first editions, especially signed ones. He had been suspected of shady dealing in the past.
We soon meet Mercer Mann’s first novel was a best seller. She was now three years overdue on her second one. Her academic position was being terminated and her bank account was running low. Her grandmother had lived on Camino Island and Mercer had spent her summers there while she was growing up. She hadn’t returned since her grandmother died.
Mercer was approached by a woman trying to locate the missing Fitzgerald manuscripts asked Mercer to go undercover, befriend Cabot, and find out if he might have it and where it was hidden. Mercer was very reluctant but a large payment for six-months work in an location she knew and liked and which would give her time and a place to work on her new book were very tempting.
CAMINO ISLAND is the story of how well the hunt worked and what obstacles had to be overcome and, as in all of John Grisham’s stories, there are many.
A major under theme of the book is the plight of authors and booksellers. “Selling books was a tough business...The big chains were deep discounting all bestsellers, some offering 50 percent off, and now with the Internet and Amazon folks were shopping from home. In the past five years, over 700 independent bookstores had closed. Only a few were making money.”
“But the one constant was that those giving advice enjoyed what they were doing. They loved books, and literature, and writers, the whole publishing scene, and they were willing to put in long hours and deal with customers because they considered their to be a noble calling.” Good authors were going on tours at which the few people that attended usually did not buy the book. Many were self-publishing even though it was harder to build a market. Some of the authors had begun writing books that sold well even though they were not the high quality stories they were able to tell. Many were
CAMINO ISLAND includes some of “Cable’s Top Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.” Among them are don’t include prologues, don’t introduce too many characters in the first chapter (“Five’s enough.), showing off by using big words most people don’t know; not using quotation marks for dialogue, and not cutting extraneous material.
This is not Grisham’s usual legal, courtroom drama. It’s a nice diversion, though, with a story as well-written and complicated as his previous best sellers
The first one was Camino Island and things are not off to a good start.
The premise of the book sounded great, prices F Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts are stolen and the insurance company needs help identifying who now has them and where they are.
Here in no particular order were my problems with the book.
1. Mr Grisham has managed to write a chick lit book, sadly it isn't very good.
2. After the manuscripts are stolen, the book is painfully boring.
3. The woman hired to help find the criminals, is annoying and not at ,all interesting.
4. Mr Grisham's liberal politics are scattered throughout.
By the time I got to the end I didn't even care how the book turned out.
It is always disappointing when authors who have written a number of fine books decide to do the bare minimum, just for the money.
Mr. Grisham has written a book that will work well as a serialized television program once it is spiced up a bit with the romance and violence emphasized. Essentially, priceless manuscripts have been stolen from Princeton University by a gang of five men. The book is about the search for them and their ultimate return to the rightful owner. The very beginning and the very end were more interesting than the middle which was very thin with some brief mentions about the value of rare books and manuscripts and the nefarious behavior that some booksellers engage in as collectors.
There was often too much extraneous information about silly romantic moments, binge drinking, and character backgrounds that added nothing to the story. Many scenes were contrived, emphasizing the emotional dysfunction, rudeness, and alcohol dependence of the writing community. The characters, by and large, appeared either empty headed or overly impressed with their own ability. The women were portrayed very negatively as greedy, rude, sex-seeking shallow individuals. Amorality or immorality was very much alive and well!
The FBI, after their initial success in the investigation, was made out to be a bit incompetent, failing to recognize obvious clues or to pursue obvious leads in a timely way. Stupid errors were made allowing for the crime to actually pay. Insurance companies were driven by greed, not right or wrong. The criminals sometimes seemed to be the brightest bulbs, although some did, although rarely, actually pay a high price for their shady behavior.
Most of the characters were self serving and unlikable, and the story was unbelievable. Basically, it is about a young, out of work writer who is broke and having a dry spell. She is past due on a book for her publisher and in need of money. When approached by an insurance company to help find the stolen manuscripts, she suddenly becomes a well known writer and capable investigator/spy. Although I thought she seemed hopelessly naïve and immature, she is portrayed as competent and sure of herself in very compromising situations. She neither had the experience or talent to be the spy she becomes. I found the story silly, the romance manufactured, the characters shallow, and the relationships totally artificial. The best part about this book was the narrator who gave the weak story vitality.
Once again, it will be a very good television series, but as a book, it left a lot to be desired. This author seems to be writing his books more for the entertainment world than the literary one.
Enjoy Mr. Grishams books for many reasons.
They get me thinking, they take me to new places and I learn new things.
Love this one because it deals with the publishing side of books and how a heist is pulled off quite easily.
It's amazing where the manuscripts end up. Love learning about clamshell and cedar boxes. Lots of twists and turns in this book.
Loved the part about Hemingway and Zelda and Charles Dickens wife as I had just read a book on that subject.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PUBLISHER Random House Audio
PUBLISHED June 6, 2017
NARRATOR January LaVoy
A masterfully crafted story of a dramatic heist and the suspenseful search for five priceless manuscripts.
Five priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald handwritten manuscripts are stolen from Princeton University. Only one drop of blood was left behind. The culprits had planned their get away well, and planned for all manner of contingencies. The FBI is investigating, as is the investigative arm of the insurance company that is on the hook for the financial loss, to the tune of $25 million. These experienced investigators have leads that the manuscripts might be in Camino Island, Florida, just north of Jacksonville. They need a Camino Island insider to go undercover, so they hire a young women author who has ties to the area. And she needs the money! She is instructed to get to know the local independent bookstore owner. And boy, does she!
CAMINO ISLAND is an highly entertaining heist thriller. It's not anything like the legal thrillers Grisham usually writes. It’s even better. I really appreciate that he branched out from his norm.
This is a great novel about rare books, first editions, independent books stores and authors. Grisham conveys a good deal of knowledge about writing books and the book selling industry. I have a tendency to love any book, that has books as it theme!
All the characters in CAMINO ISLAND are both likable and believable. The pace of the book is fast and as a result it's a quick, easy and most enjoyable read. As a native Floridian, I love it when books are set in Florida, and even though Camino Island is fictional, it certainly seemed real to me. This would make a great summer beach read. Highly recommended.
I listened to the Audible edition of the book. It was narrated by January LaVoy who did an absolutely fabulous job.
The ending wasn't a blockbuster, but it was satisfying. I was almost hoping that the insurance team turned out to be an elite gang ALSO after the manuscripts and that Mercer had been duped into helping them. Now *that* would have been interesting:-)
Budget-tightening cuts have left Mercer Mann unemployed, a situation that prompts her to consider returning to her childhood haunts on Camino Island, a place she has not visited since the death of her grandmother some eleven ears earlier. Concerned about the state of her finances and about her hefty student debt, she hopes to finish a book she’s been trying to write for several years.
Bruce Cable, owner of the independent Bay Books in Santa Rosa on Camino Island, has built a solid reputation as a bookseller and a rare book dealer. Well-liked and respected, his business is a mainstay of the little resort town. He and his wife, Noelle, an antiques dealer, often entertain his circle of literary friends.
Inevitably, the stolen manuscripts will touch the lives of both the writer and the bookseller. And then the trouble really begins.
Delightful characters peopling an intricate, twisty plot make this a compelling treat for every book-lover. Readers will find much to appreciate in this delicious cat-and-mouse tale of writers, books, and plans gone awry.