The Last Juror is the latest novel out of the Grisham factory of legal thrillers. This one is set back in Ford County, the setting of his first novel A Time to Kill , but we also see Clanton, which I believe was the town from The Chamber . I have not been very impressed with Grisham s work when he has strayed away from the legal world, but this novel is a step back in that direction. To be perfectly honest, Grisham puts one foot back into the legal matters that he has made his career on, but his other foot is in the day to day style of story he told in A Painted House. This was an excellent blend of Grisham s two literary worlds.
The setting is 1970 s Mississippi. Willie Traynor. Willie is a young reporter for the local newspaper, who, in an interesting set of circumstances, is able to buy the newspaper and become the new owner of the local paper. For perhaps the first time in one of Grisham s legal novels, the protagonist is not someone who is directly connected to the law. The future of the paper does not look good. It was failing quickly (thus Willie was able to purchase the paper), and it doesn t look like Willie has much chance to significantly increase the number of readers at least not until the brutal rape and murder (committed in front of the victim s children) with the suspect being part of a family with a deservedly poor reputation. Willie begins reporting every aspect of the case and the trial (and does not hide his bias), sales of the paper begins to soar.
We are taken through the trial (and years later when what happened becomes an issue again) through the eyes of Willie Traynor. Willie began as an outsider to Clanton, but as time passes he becomes an accepted (if colorful) member of Ford County.
I have always liked Grisham s legal books, and this one is no different. While Grisham may never be nominated for the highest literary awards, his books are fast paced and entertaining and fun to read. That s important, to read something that you enjoy, and I have enjoyed nearly ever book Grisham has put out. They are similar and follow a formula, but Grisham is good enough (and is maturing as a writer) that for the brief amount of time that it takes to read his book, we are brought into Grisham s world.