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The Last Juror Paperback – 29 Nov 2004

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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: 11 x 3.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 670,891 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 establishes a pointed argument about the law. When Danny Padgitt, part of a family of bootleggers who are 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 threatened 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 alike 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

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By V. Carrick on 14 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Howard on 12 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
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 By A Customer on 12 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
Here we have a small town in the Deep South, stocked with affectionately drawn characters. Drunks, lawyers, rednecks, eccentrics and old maids walk the dusty town square. The main thread of plot centres on a dramatic criminal trial featuring a brutal white man, but for long sections of the book, this is not touched on, as we are shown a series of episodes that paint the town and its inhabitants in greater detail. We get to see over the tracks to the black community, their food and their churchgoing.
It could be "To Kill a Mockingbird", but it is instead John Grisham's latest. The two books certainly have something of the same flavour, but I should not push the analogy too far. They may be playing with similar ingredients, but in rather different leagues.
The flowing, readable prose and authentic dialogue of Grisham are the same as ever, but this is the first of his that I have read in which he is prepared to let plot-development wait while he has a good look around the scene he has set and the people in it. Even within the book, the pace changes dramatically. When we reach the end of Chapter 17, just under halfway through, the main plot is set up, and we expect the second half of the book to pile on the pace towards the inevitable denouement. But instead we have to wait, and the author makes this pleasant enough for over a hundred pages as he leads us through the years and around the town.
Grisham seems to be searching for material beyond his lawyer-based work and this excursion in a new pasture can be counted as a highly enjoyable success, though perhaps not a triumph.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Drummond Lee on 23 July 2011
Format: Paperback
After reading a number of Grisham books I was especially looking forward to The Last Juror, purly based on the blurb. The blurb describes the murder of a local lady and subsequent trial of guilty party Danny Padgit who during the trial threatens revenge against the jurors if they convict him. After early release he 'returns to Ford County and the retribution begins'. Sounds like a good read...or so I thought.

I was expecting courtroom drama, Grisham style. Twists and turns, emotion, you name it, it was bound to be in this book. However, the trial is done and dusted very quickly, well before the halfway mark of the book and the release of Padgit only happens in the last 50 pages or so. The rest of the book is concerned with the mundane day to day exploits of a small county town, seen through the eyes of local newspaper owner, Willie Traynor. We had elections, racism, the endearing story of Traynor's friendship with 'local black lady done good' Miss Callie, a random sniper attack by the resident schizophrenic and who can forget the introduction of retail chain Bargain Buy....zzzzz....

I wouldn't say that it's a particularly bad book but it's not exactly what it says on the back cover. It's a story of Clanton, Mississippi in the 1970s and the problems that people faced and had to overcome. The blurb merely describes a side story, one of many in the book. As far as the final killings go, was it just me or was it blatently obvious what was happening as soon as Miss Callie presented Willie with her list of jurors who were against the death sentence for Padgit. Yet it was still another 40 pages before Grisham eventually confirmed the obvious.

Maybe if it was pitched at a different level and readers know what to expect then it could have been more enjoyable. It was not the worst book I've ever read but it's put me off Grisham and don't think I will be revisiting his work for a while.
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