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on 9 November 2009
I'm not a huge follower of John Grisham's novels (I enjoyed the first few but haven't read any since "The Client") but always enjoyed his depictions of the southern states of America, so a series of stories set in Ford County appealed to me.

What was pretty much an impulse purchase (based partly on the colourful cover!) is possibly the best book I've read this year! 7 short stories linked by location, featuring lots of black humour, some wonderfully drawn characters, and some of the most heart rending writing I've read in years.

Marvellous stuff - I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 13 November 2009
Not a novel, but a series of short stories set in and around Mississippi's fictional Ford County. A few of them concern the misadventures of small-town lawyers, but overall John Grisham presents a greater diversity of characters and situations than in any of his previous works. His writing style is as compelling as ever, and the pages turn quickly, though not all the stories have a twist in the tail. A good read.
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After finishing this book, I can honestly say that the last few reviews about it do not give it much credit and that is a real shame. This is a great book of short stories deserving only the highest praise not the petty criticism I have been reading about it. It was written with great depth and intensity. It evokes the deepest of emotions. I have a really hard time understanding why the last reviews have been so negative.

I am not generally someone who likes reading short stories but these,by no means, are ordinary short stories. There are seven of them in total and they are about the mostly poor people of a small town in Mississippi. True, they are generally not very happy stories. They are like a series of Greek tragedies about the harshness of life experienced by poor, uneducated southern people from broken families with drug and alcohol problems. The last story "Funny Boy" had to be the saddest of all. It brought tears to my eyes thinking about how good "Christian" people treated one of their townspeople who had come home to die from AIDS. They did not even see fit to treat this poor soul or his caregiver as human beings deserving of love and respect. During this time of Lent, in preparation of the Easter season, I cannot help but think of the lepers that Jesus Christ himself ministered to. They were like the HIV positive individuals of that day. Like the song "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me." John Grisham powerfully reached in and touched me with this final story--not that the previous six stories were any less masterfully written.

No,this is not a collection of happy stories. What I can say about them, however, is that they are REAL about REAL people and can grip you in ways that you wouldn't think possible.
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on 7 November 2010
It has been a long time since I've read a John Grisham book. I read all of his earlier books back in the day, without realizing at the time that they were all of his first books, and I remember liking them, but my tastes have changed quite a bit since then. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book of short stories, as it was immediately obvious that he still has talent as a writer. I liked the first story the best by far, and even though I wouldn't say that things went downhill from there, none of the other ones interested me quite as much, and there was also less humour than in the first. I can't think of any particular reason why anyone wouldn't like this, so why not give it a try?
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on 25 February 2013
I was not sure quite what to expect from this collection. I guess I expected the usual fare of legal stories, but I got something quite different. I will run through the stories and see if I can persuade you to read them.

"Blood Drive" is about a construction site accident, and a group of men offering to drive to the Big City to donate blood for a friend. The attractions of the two hour journey and the city itself rather take over from the mercy mission.

"Fetching Raymond" looks at a family travelling to the execution of a son and brother on death row. A reprieve may or may not be in the air, but the main focus is on the petty squabbles between the brothers and how they continue right up to the last moment.

"Fish Files" is, in fact, a legal story. A small town lawyer unexpectedly finds that he has a fortune in claims on his hands, having years ago abandoned the cases.

"Casino" tells the story of an Indian tribe finding they might benefit from building a casino on their land. The local laws have a loophole allowing this to happen even where building one anywhere else would be banned. But will they be swindled?

"Michael's Room" is a harrowing tale of a boy who was the victim of a medical mistake years ago that left him in a vegetable state, and of a lawyer who successfully defended a doctor against a malpractice suit. Will this ghost from the past come back to haunt him?

"Quiet Haven" finds an employee at a retirement home taking rather too much interest in past goings-on there.

"Funny Boy" sees a past resident of a small town returning there with Aids, and looks at the fears and prejudices of the local community as he slowly dies. He is white, but his well off family place him in a black neighbourhood to spend his last days with a stranger, an elderly black, church-going lady.

So, a heavy bunch of stories, but well worth it. There is much humanity in this little collection, as well as brutality and dishonesty. They are all unmistakably Grisham.
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on 28 December 2009
As an avid fan of the current mega writers (Coben, Deaver, Cornwell etc) I was a little surprised to see this book - made up of 7 short stories all based around Ford County. Opening the book to read the first story in a free half hour I thought I had, was hooked immediately (to the point the sun had gone down by the time I came up for air). Excellently written, perfectly 'linked', just enough characterisation (in a short story, often hard to achieve) to ensure credibility, the stories each trip along very well. Not the top class feature length novel, but definitely worth finding time for.
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on 19 July 2011
John Grisham is one of the best-known authors in the world today. Novels such as `A Time To Kill', `The Firm', `The Pelican Brief', `The Client', `The Rainmaker' and `The Runaway Jury' have not only made the bestseller lists but have also been adapted into critically and commercially successful films. What he attempts with `Ford County Stories' is to take the reader into the world of the rural small town of Clanton, Mississippi in America's Deep South. Rather than giving us another sweeping `big issue' novel he has instead authored seven short stories that form this collection.

Here the action takes place in a strip club, a blood bank, bars, a retirement home, a casino, law courts, offices and prison. Each story is original, charting the lives of different members of Clanton's small population. Once again Grisham manages to hit all the right notes, as the characters here are vividly drawn as well as convincing. He knows these people, their motives and their behaviour.

As usual Grisham knows exactly how to set the tone, place and action. Although tackling different subject matters I found all seven stories to be gripping. You are kept guessing who will get away with crime and who will not.

The stories involve crooked lawyers, a prisoner on death row and his long suffering family, a whistleblower working at a retirement home, a jilted husband trying to break a casino, a case involving a handicapped child and a court judgement with dire consequences and a moving story revealing small town prejudices in the 1980s with a heart-warming friendship that ensues.

There are also lighter touches, especially a story involving three hapless would-be blood donors who share a doomed road trip to help a member of their community only for comic disaster to befall them.

Grisham manages to elicit mirth, disgust, outrage, suspense and empathy with these entertaining stories. More importantly he has succeeded once again in showing how the law and the justice system impacts on the lives of ordinary people. Clearly he is equally adept at telling short stories as he is at writing novels.
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on 5 December 2009
A great read could not put it down Im not one normally for short stories ,however these are gripping.
This is Grisham at his best. Fantastic can well recomend.
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on 24 July 2012
I concur with the 5* praise.- its the only book of his that I have ever read, took it on holiday in North Wales and was transported in the gaps between activities to the South of the US. I thought the collection showed a lot of sympathy with all of its central characters without needing the paint them as saints, or resort to pure sentimentality.
The stories are often funny, always fascinating with a variety of well painted characters. Grisham needs remarkably little description to immerse the reader. Read it all in a couple of days, left me feeling very satisfied as each story drew me in for its duration and then concluded in an interesting way.
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on 11 December 2009
I have read every JG book ever published and most are very good, some are not so good. This one, however, is probably the best of his I have ever read. The stories all leave you wanting more and wishing they were novels in their own right. The last story had such a powerful ending, even I nearly shed a tear. Fantastic book, I cannot recommend it enough
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