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Word Count: 1,304
THE Washington novel used to be about politics and power sex and scandal elections and intrigue among capital insiders If John Grishams latest is anything to go by the new Washington novel will be as Washington itself increasingly is about image Since the invention of the music video people seem to have stopped expecting popular entertainment to provide much in the way of plot or characterization or serious themes or indeed anything but a succession of stylish figures striking cool attitudes and Grisham has brought the ethos of the music video to popular fiction Not that Grisham himself should be blamed for this state of mind It is everywhere in Bill Clintons Washington Even Phyllis C Richman the restaurant reviewer for the Washington Post writes of a trendy local eatery Look around the dining room and youll guess you are seeing academics in DC for a conference journalists not with sources but with gossip pals lawyers who wouldnt work for corporations but only for public-interest groups Clearly the hint that working for public-interest groups is a fashion statement is not something that originated with John Grisham But Grisham -- who if he chose to could count his novels toward his own pro bono resume since they amount to unpaid public-relations work for the Trial Lawyers Association -- is making the most of this new lawyer-chic His latest hero Michael Brock a 32-year-old associate in anti-trust law with one of the biggest and most prestigious Washington firms is briefly taken hostage by a homeless street person who calls himself Mister After managing to slip past security Mister terrorizes a number of lawyers at Michaels firm with a firearm and what he pretends is dynamite strapped to his body he is eventually shot and killed by a police SWAT team Michael was standing behind Mister when the bullet hit and though unharmed continues to be haunted by his captors challenges to his fellow K
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