If you're a John Grisham fan who was put off by last year's disastrous sequel to "The Firm," "The Exchange," you might want to give him another chance.

The legal thriller maestro's "Camino Ghosts" returns him to the genial characters from his "Camino Island" and "Camino Winds," who all check in and out of a remarkably prosperous bookstore on the fictitious Camino Island, which Grisham has said was inspired by Amelia Island, off the coast of northern Florida.

Like the other "Camino" books, "Ghosts" is briefer and more light-hearted than Grisham's straight-up legal thrillers — no one gets killed during the course of the new one, or even seriously threatened.

The "Camino" books have felt like palate cleansers for Grisham, something fun to do before tackling the weightier issues that usually form the backbone of books such as "The Client" and "The Associate." (The first "Camino Island" was a caper, touched off by the theft of an F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscript.).

"Ghosts" blends legal thriller elements with the friendly bickering of the island's residents. Bookstore owner Bruce Cable and his pals come to the assistance of a woman named Lovely Jackson, who is descended from enslaved people and who is attempting to establish a claim on a now-deserted island, where her ancestors lived after they escaped from slavery.

As usual, Grisham has a few legal surprises to spring on us as the case unfolds and his characters, while not particularly deep, are fun to hang out with.

Most importantly, the plotting instincts that deserted Grisham in "Exchange" are back in "Camino Ghosts." The legal case may drag out over months, as actual legal cases do, but Grisham makes sure the book moves like the winds that buffet his fictional island.

Camino Ghosts

By: John Grisham.

Publisher: Doubleday, 293 pages, $29.95.