The Last Juror by John Grisham
One Of My Very Favorite Grisham Books!
In 1970, small town newspaper The Clanton Times went belly up. With
financial assistance from a rich relative, its purchased by 23-year-old Willie
Traynor, formerly the papers cub reporter. Soon afterward, his new
business receives the readership boost it needs thanks to his editorial
efforts and coverage of a particularly brutal rape and murder committed by
the scion of the towns reclusive bootlegger family. Rather than shy from
reporting on the subsequent open-and-shut trial (those who oppose the
Padgitt family tend to turn up dead in the areas swampland), Traynor
launches a crusade to ensure the unrepentant murderer is brought to
justice. When a guilty verdict is returned, the town is relieved to find the
Padgitt familys grip on the town did not sway the jury, though Danny
Padgitt is sentenced to life in prison rather than death. But, when Padgitt is
released after serving less than a decade in jail and members of the jury
are murdered, Clanton once again finds itself at the mercy of its renegade
family. When it comes, the dénouement is no surprise; The Last Juror is
less a story of suspense than a study of the often idyllic southern town of
Clanton, Mississippi (the setting for Grishams first novel, A Time to Kill).
Throughout the nine years between Padgitts trial and release, Traynor
finds acceptance in Clanton, where the people dont really trust you unless
they trusted your grandfather. He grows from a long-haired idealist into
another of the towns colorful characters--renovating an old house, sporting
a bowtie, beloved on both sides of the color line, and the only person to
have attended each of the towns 88 churches at least once. The Last Juror
returns Grisham to the courtroom where he made his name, but those who
enjoyed the warm sentiment of his recent novels (Bleachers, A Painted
House) will still find much to love here. --Benjamin Reese
I am an unabashed Grisham fan and think I have read about everything
hes written. I simply loved some of his books and I merely liked others.
Theres always something special about his legal themed stories but some
of the ones that I loved most were not legal at all: The Painted
House,Skipping Christmas for example (which two were also favorites of
my husband). But The Last Juror was a standout special b ook for me.
The legal/lawyer theme is just an embedded part of the story while the
principal theme is the unfolding development of Willies character and the
friendships he makes in the town, especially the lovely relationship
between Willie and Miss Callie. But all the characters are so finely drawn
that you really get to know them and care about them or are at least
interested in their fates. Willie, warts and all, is one of my all time favorite
Grisham characters as is the unique Miss Callie. I wont g o into the story
line. Others have done that quite well. Ill just say that this is a book for all
ages who like a good story. My very elderly parents lived the last 3 years
of their lives with me and I would read to them for about an hour every
afternoon. It was a time of companionship and enjoyment for us all.
During that time we covered many books and one of them was The Last
Juror. They were enthralled from the first to the last word. My Mother paid
the book the ultimate compliment for any story when she said, Oh, I hate
for it to end. I want to hear more about Willie.
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