The Last Juror - John Grisham
In 1970, one of Mississippi's more colourful weekly newspapers, The Ford County Times, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership wa...
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Review of "The Last Juror - John Grisham"
summer resolution - to read more and stop buying books until I have read what I have
My latest read was this one from John Grisham which I picked up from a local charity shop for 50p.
Basic Plot:Willie Traynor, the new owner of the local newspaper has his first major story as a murder is committed in the small town of Clanton in the district of Ford County, Mississippi……
At the trial some suspect the perpetrator will simply get off as his family have money and have, in the past, bought the jury and the judge……Traynor reports the facts of the case and the aftermath and the circulation swells but will justice be done and will Traynor manage to stay alive….?
What I thought of it?
I have to say that this, for me, is not the best John Grisham book that I have read but that could be that I have a slight aversion to books which are written in the first person. This does not mean that it is badly written or a poor story – it is well written and the story as a whole is a good one. I would just have preferred it to be in the third person.The novel, for me, dragged on a bit at points and some things written about were really irrelevant to the main plot but nor were they sub plots. It did, I suppose, help set the scene of the local area but going on about all the different churches Traynor went to for me added little if anything to the story. However, the court cases are well written and the events after the trial do have some suspense to them.
It is set in the 1970s in a small town in the deepish south in the USA whilst there was still aspects of segregation based on a person’s race. The book not only is a thriller/crime/legal novel but also partly a social commentary on the ending of the segregation which is partly told through the friendship that develops between Traynor and Miss Callie – a well-known in her community, tough as old boots, black lady who appears to have decided that Traynor needs feeding up and this she does by inviting him to lunch once a week. Miss Callie also sort of becomes Traynor’s proof reader and sends him corrections on spelling and grammar from the paper. However, her main part is as the ‘last juror’ and in this she becomes the first black person to sit on a jury in the town. Within the novel there is also the corruption of the legal system running through the story showing that if you have money you can, sometimes, buy your way out of trouble and at times into elected office.The main characters in the novel were Traynor (the narrator) and Miss Callie Ruffin and throughout the novel these characters are well developed and I found Miss Callie to be bar far the most interesting of these two as Traynor comes across as rather a one dimensional at times whereas Miss Callie with her husband and their now grown up children have had a more interesting life. Other more minor characters are used really to flesh out scenes and to make sure Traynor can get the job of running the paper done and for him to mull the events over with.
Whilst there is a sort of main plot to the story it is quite fragmented as events within it do occur years apart and this means that it is more a collection of sub plots centred on a number of the characters within the novel. The settings do work from the newspaper offices to Miss Callie’s home each has its own distinctive atmosphere. The court room for example appears to be set up more for cases of ‘he stole an apple from my tree’ rather than the murder that is central to the plot as it gives a rather claustrophobic feel when it is full.Whilst there are a few twists in the main plot I do feel that perhaps these could have been a bit bigger and more dramatic. The conclusion was perhaps slightly underwhelming as it was perhaps a little flat as if writers block was setting in as it ends with more of a whimper than a bang.
Whilst the book is on the whole well researched Grisham does admit, in the author’s notes, that he has taken a few liberties with the legal system in Mississippi at the time the book was set in.
SummaryWhilst this is well written it is not my favourite effort from Grisham. It is more of a social commentary than a legal thriller. Whilst there is nothing wrong with a social commentary novel it just wasn’t what I had expected.
I have selected 'probably not' for the question 'would you read it again' mainly because I have a good memory for book plots and endings so for me this would spoil a re-read.
Product Information : The Last Juror - John Grisham
Manufacturer's product descriptionIn 1970, one of Mississippi's more colourful weekly newspapers, The Ford County Times, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by a 23 year-old college drop-out, named Willie Traynor. The future of the paper looked grim until a young mother was brutally raped and murdered by a member of the notorious Padgitt family. Willie Traynor reported all the gruesome details, and his newspaper began to prosper. The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courtroom in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling and dramatic end when the defendant threatened revenge against the jurors if they convicted him. Nevertheless, they found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison. But in Mississippi in 1970, 'life' didn't necessarily mean 'life', and nine years later Danny Padgitt managed to get himself paroled. He returned to Ford County, and the retribution began. About the AuthorJohn Grisham is the author of seventeen novels. The Last Juror is his first novel since A Time to Kill to be set in Ford County, Mississippi.
Author: John Grisham
Title: The Last Juror
ISBN: 0099457156; 0375728295; 0385339682; 0385510446; 0739441655; 1844131599; 1844131610, 0099457156
Publisher: Arrow Books
All Authors: John Grisham
Listed on Ciao since: 01/05/2004