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The Last Juror [Paperback]

John Grisham
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Nov 2004

In 1970, The Ford County Times, one of Mississipi's more colourful weekly newspapers, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by 23-year-old college drop-out, 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. 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, 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (29 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099457156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099457152
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 11 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like many of John Grisham's better books, The Last Juror is at its best when evoking the past--Mississippi in the early 1970s--and less effective when constructing the bait-and-switch plotting with which he makes a pointed argument about the law. When Danny Padgitt (one of a family of bootleggers that is effectively a large criminal conspiracy) is convicted of rape and murder, the jury cannot agree on the death penalty--and life sentences in this time and place are liable to be as little as nine years. Padgitt threatens the jury and when, once he is out, the jurors who heard his case start being executed, conclusions are there to be jumped to...

Grisham is arguing that justice has to be seen to be done, rather than specifically for the death penalty or even life-means-life sentencing. Though his case is loaded, it is never entirely sentimentalised partly because these events are seen through the eyes of one of his most engaging narrators--a young northern-newspaper editor out to make a name and a fortune for himself, but also committed to the truth and a saintly African-American matriarch who serves on the Padgitt jury. This is a deeply populist book, but never a stupid one. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The Last Juror sees Grisham at the absolute peak of his form - page-turning urgency" (Mail on Sunday)

"Masterful - when Grisham gets in the courtroom he lets rip, drawing scenes so real they're not just alive, they're pulsating - quality thriller writing" (Daily Mirror)

"The Last Juror does not need to coast on its author's megapopularity. It's a reminder of how the Grisham juggernaut began" (New York Times)

"Wholly engrossing - Grisham's story-telling knack has not deserted him; and the hint that something more serious is at stake than the solution of a crime gives the narrative an extra depth" (Evening Standard)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best 14 July 2004
Not the best book I have ever read from Grisham - largely because the plot never really came together, the title was misleading, he rambled on for to long about irrelevant plot intricacies, promised much but delivered very little. Dont get me wrong, if he had pitched the book at a different level, it would be a masterpiece - it is well written, full of interesting characters, but not entirely plot driven.
I was expecting a taut legal thriller - basic plot is this: a yng guy who is a member of a well known criminal family gets convicted of the rape and murder of a local single mum. He doesnt however get the death sentence, but still threatens the jurors in front of a packed courthouse that he will kill them all if he is found guilty. So, here the stage is set for a suspense filled story, but then it all kinda goes it a bit wrong after that, and loses its way. I am not going to say too much more - if you like a good read, then this is classic Grisham, but dont get it just to read a legal thriller, cos you wont get one
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hurtling Towards Nowhere 12 Dec 2004
I really enjoyed reading this book, up until I realised that I had only two or three chapters to go and nothing was happening. I really like Grisham and have read most of his other books, all of which I enjoyed. This sounded promising, and the book itself was engaging. The characters had more depth that some of his earlier work and I felt like I had been to the town the book was set in, with all the detail and vivid depiction. But nothing actually happens in this book. The plot has no twist or turns, it just ambles nicely along. I felt as if Grisham had been steaming ahead, pumping out the words, doing well, then realised that he only had 20,000 or so to go and began tying it up. The pace is that of a build up all the way through, which is brought to a sudden and untidy halt about two chapters from the end. It's as if the writer got bored or lost, made an ending that just about Ban-aided the rest of the book and proclaimed, 'Finished!'When you finish the book you flip through to see if it's missing pages. Disappointing to say the least.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Vintage Grisham 20 Feb 2004
By A Customer
According to the blurb on the back of the book, the reader is under the impression that the majority of the novel will deal with what happens when a convicted killer is released from prison and the jurors responsible for the conviction are picked off one by one. Indeed, this would make a fascinating plot, were it the central theme. In fact, this only happens a few pages from the end of the book! The novel deals mainly with the characters of Willie Traynor and Miss Callie (the latter a beautiful portrayal) and life in a small Mississippi town. This, however, is not why I read Grisham books - I prefer suspense and a stunning denouement, neither of which is evident here. Although well-written, it's not up to his usual standard.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant... as expected 3 Feb 2004
In his latest novel we find Grisham on top form- as he usually is. His ability to intertwine exciting and gripping plots and appealing characters and then deliver all this with aplomb and narative skill has secured his reputation as a top author. Grisham sticks to the formula and pulls off another brilliant story.
The plot follows a convicted murderer who escaped his life sentence and returns to his home town to begin his retribution. It's as inticing as it sounds. Here, as in A Time to Kill, Grisham is able to populate Clanton with flesh-and-blood characters and make readers care about them, which only heightens concern after a renegade Padgitt begins "pickin' off the jurors." The Last Juror does not need to coast on its author's megapopularity. It's a reminder of how the Grisham juggernaut began
The novel will undoubtedly satisfy those with an appetite for legal thrillers and those who believe Grisham possesses more talent than those breathless page-turners sometimes reveal. It ranks among his best-written and most atmospheric novels.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe Grisham's best work 6 Feb 2004
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
In my experience, Grisham either writes excellent books (The Chamber, The Runaway Jury) or very mediocre ones (The Client, which is possibly the most pointless thing I have read in years.) The blurb of The Last Juror – which tells of a small Southern town, a rape and murder trial, a defendant send down despite threatening revenge if the jurors convict him, and a “retribution” 9 years later upon his release – makes it sound a very promising thriller, and I was expecting to read what might be Grisham’s best book. However, the blurb is slightly misleading in its focus and its suggestion of time. Indeed, the trial doesn’t happen until about halfway through, and the release not until about the final 50 pages. As I realised this, I changed my expectation to disappointment. Big but: I was very wrong. Because, in spite of that, this is STILL probably Grisham’s finest novel.
While it is partly about the trial and conviction of local boy Danny Padgitt, The Last Juror is actually about the town as a whole and how it changes over time, through desegregation and other social shifts. It’s about it’s eclectic residents and how they cope with the changes and crimes in the community, as seen through the eyes of the dubiously-named Willie Traynor, one of Grisham’s most engaging narrators in years, a 23 year-old journalist who has recently acquired ownership of the Ford Count Times, and gradually turns its fortunes around as he writes with endearing passion about the town, and anger at the corruption in its justice system. The journey Grisham takes us on, through the panorama of 9 years in the history of this town in the seventies, is a wonderful, touching, and also thrilling, and The Last Juror is a wonderful, touching and thrilling book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Grisham page turner!
A brilliant read! Great storyline with excellent characters.
Published 14 days ago by Mr M J Foot
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
good condition
Published 1 month ago by bjm0151
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Really enjoyed reading this book. I love any kind of good legal drama, I had read this years ago and didn't realise till I was part the way through. Well worth the second try.
Published 1 month ago by olive hayes
Well worth the read. The characters were 'real' and believable , and wonderfully described .

I normally spoil a book for myself by ' seeing the end coming' about two... Read more
Published 1 month ago by READINGNANNY
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting end
Slow starter for Grisham but soon gets you involved and wanting to read non stop. The final pages keep you alert.
Published 3 months ago by lynn r
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent didn't want to put to down
I guessed the ending would not be as commonly expected but it was still a read I wanted to finish - fantastic
Published 5 months ago by Jmhirvine
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced
The good thing about this book is that it is a light-hearted story to read. It is a fast-paced book. I consider it to be one of Grisham's best. Read more
Published 5 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars heartwarming
The most engaging and touching novel I have read so far by JohnGrisham.
I know nothing of the south of the USA, apart from what one sees at the cinema, but this book seems to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by George Dodgshon
5.0 out of 5 stars good
better than many of his previos works and is excellent at describing many of the characters and places of the south
Published 7 months ago by Nippon tuck
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I cannot say anything objectionable about any of John Grisham's books, at least not until he stops writing them, or changes his Christian content.
Published 9 months ago by Mr. Bmjones
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