Reading in the Time of Quarantine - John Grisham

Has John Grisham sold more books than there are atoms in the Milky Way?  Not quite, but close.  He is my go-to author for page turning suspense, and fortunately, he has written a lot of books.  I have bought 12 so far this quarantine, and have read ten.  A commentary and some capsule reviews below.

I expect that Grisham is fabulously wealthy by now, with hundreds of millions of books sold and a potful of highly successful movies adaptations, but he started out as a street lawyer, defending the little guys and fighting the big guys, and his sympathies as an author are clearly with the little guys.

His villains tend to be the evil rich corporations, and the many inequities and iniquities of the legal system and his sympathies with the people it can grind up.  He is a southerner, and race is another frequent theme.  His bad guys tend to be very bad and his good guys more nuanced.

A Time to Kill: Grisham’s first novel, and it failed to sell well – until his second novel became a zillion seller and major motion picture.  Since then, this tale of a brutal crime, violent retribution, and a resulting dramatic trial in the small and fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi has been recognized as one of his best.  Jake Brigance is the young and ambitious defense lawyer who must contend with the KKK, violent threats, and an ambitious prosecutor.  Also available as a movie.

The Reckoning: This story of a war hero and the brutal events he survived in the Philippines after capture by the Japanese, the shocking crime that followed his return, and the destruction of his family is the darkest Grisham novel that I have read.  But Grisham does suck one in.

The Guardians:  From Amazon reviews: “Grisham again delivers a suspenseful thriller mixed with powerful themes such as false incarceration, the death penalty and how the legal system shows prejudice. The Guardian team of characters is first-rate.”– Associated Press.  Fiction, but highlights the work of the lawyers working to free those wrongly convicted, and especially those wrongly convicted and facing the death penalty.  Unfortunately, our legal system produces way too many of these.

The Rooster Bar: Three friends discover that their diploma mill law school degrees will make them about as employable as they would have been without a couple of hundred grand of school debt, and embark on a life of mostly inept crime.  Complications ensue.

The Whistler: A Novel.   Most judicial misconduct consists of alcoholism, senility, sexual misconduct and other quotidian offenses.  Two investigators for Florida get a tip that hints at more sinister goings on.  Organized crime, an Indian tribal casino, and murder muddy the waters.

(to be continued) 


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