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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisham takes it easy
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...
Published on 12 Sep 2004 by bunstance

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best
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...
Published on 14 July 2004 by V. Carrick


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best, 14 July 2004
By 
V. Carrick "Rob" (Kent) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Juror (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hurtling Towards Nowhere, 12 Dec 2004
By 
Catherine Howard "Cath" (Orlando, FL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Juror (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Vintage Grisham, 20 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Juror (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisham takes it easy, 12 Sep 2004
This review is from: The Last Juror (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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant... as expected, 3 Feb 2004
This review is from: The Last Juror (Hardcover)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judge Grisham Delivers, 25 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Last Juror (Paperback)
I spotted this book on the best sellers rack and thought i'd give it a go. The back convinced me to buy it, the book seemed to have a very good plot.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed the book but I do not think it's description is fitting. The book itself was a pleasant read, I enjoyed the fact that it was told from the point of view of a newcomer newspaper editor, giving it a certain style in which u can relate too. The heart warming relationship between him and Miss Callie is a lovely extra and the ending was very sad but predictable.

Though this was all good in the book, I did feel it lacked the pace, excitement and drama that the blurb claimed it would have and i must say that I was quite disappointed because of this. The book drifted at times and I felt like I was reading a biography more than a thriller.I think that the back of the book should have definately been re-written as, although it is a nice book to read, the words and plot are misleading.
Still it was a lovely story and Grisham certainly knows his stuff.
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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 "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Juror (Hardcover)
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.
There is an inexplicable tendency, even among fans of the crime genre, to look down on Grisham and other huge populists, and it is a tendency which is denying lots of people some great reading experiences. His books aren’t particularly challenging, no, but he is a brilliant and instinctive storyteller. His prose is so easy and languid, so polished, that it flows past the eyes and invites one simply to be carried along with the ease of the experience. It is remarkable prose, unlike anyone else’s. Thus, his books don’t require much effort to read, but the rewards of a captivating, entertaining story are copious and potent for the fact that his books asks so little – apart from a little emotional investment in his characters - and give, comparatively, so much.

Grisham’s books tend to be very plot driven, but this one also puts a bit more focus on characters; a quirky and warming bunch. The town colourful inhabitants are drawn, on the surface, wonderfully, even if there is no real depth to some of them. They are an unthreatening, entirely innocuous group, a personification, almost, of Grisham’s approach to his books. It’s sometimes remarkable to think that in the gratuitous world of crime writing, Grisham’s books are never ever brutal, and in all his back-catalogue he’s only ever “murdered” about 7 people.
In the end, this is a great legal thriller with some nice twists, but more than that it is a compelling meditation on the life of a small American town in the 70’s. In the very moving final chapter, Grisham’s message seems to be that the only person who sits in on our final judgement, our own last juror, is ourselves. Or God, depending upon what you believe, I suppose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Return To Clanton, Mississippi, 26 Feb 2004
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Juror (Hardcover)
In his latest novel, John Grisham has returned to the small town of Clanton, Mississippi, the scene of his first book A TIME TO KILL. Once again he has proven that he has the knack of drawing you into the book, compelling you to read more. I found that this was both good and bad in the case of THE LAST JUROR, good because I always had the sense that something was about to happen and I was desperate to find out what it was. Bad because, more often than not, I was left hanging.
Covering the years 1970 to 1979, it's written in the first person from the point of view of Willie Traynor, a young outsider to the town who has just purchased the town newspaper. It's through his eyes that all the events in Clanton are reported.

The big story of the day was the rape and murder of a young local woman who was able to identify her attacker as Danny Padgitt to her next-door neighbour. Much is made of the powerful and infinitely corrupt Padgitt family. We hear how dangerous they are when they're crossed, how ruthless they are when dealing with invaders to their land. They are an ever-present, menacing storm cloud lurking on the horizon of the peaceful town of Clanton. Traynor, as an outspoken mouthpiece against Danny Padgitt looks to have put himself firmly within the Padgitt's sights, as have the potential jurors for the trial.

Callie Ruffin is the last juror chosen for the Danny Padgitt trial. She is a notable selection because she is the first black juror chosen in Ford County and she is a god-fearing mother of eight adult children and a friend of Willie Traynor. She is a fascinating character and her past is drawn out over a series of extravagant home cooked lunchtime meals that she prepared for Willie.

As it turns out, the trial of Danny Padgitt is over one-third of the way into the book. From that point on it really reads like a study of life in a southern small town during the 1970's. Consequently the pace of the book settles down to match the comfortable lifestyle that comes with living in a small town. While this is fine and pleasant enough, it all became a bit frustrating after being revved up by the frenetic activity in the opening and the continual references of retribution that could possibly come from the Padgitt family.

Admittedly, we do see some action later in the book, but these sequences too are punctuated by long pauses of inactivity. So much so that rather than building up tension and suspense, I found that it had the opposite effect and it was more a sense of relief that something was happening that I felt.

Read THE LAST JUROR for the pleasant imagery of rural living in Mississippi. Relax on Callie Ruffin's front porch over a delicious home-cooked meal. Delight in the increasingly profitable newspaper business built by Willie Traynor. But don't expect a tension-charged mystery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Town in the American South, 17 Aug 2005
By 
This review is from: The Last Juror (Audio CD)
I just finished the audio version of The Last Juror today, and it was a great time the entire way. I don't listen to many audio books, preferring to read at a faster rate than recorded readers--but this book was different. The story is definately good, but Michael Beck just added something different, I could really believe that he was Willie Traynor, plus he did a good job with the voices of other characters.
The story isn't a "typical" Grisham legal thriller, but it did have elements. Basically we see life in Clanton, Mississippi from the perspective of Traynor during the years that he is editor of the county paper: 1970-79. There is a big murder trial at the start of the book that provides an overarcing plot, but the book is about so much more. We see Traynor interact with the town, turning from J. William Traynor from Syracuse to Willie Traynor of Clanton. He crosses the tracks to Lowtown to interact with the city's blacks, including the woman who becomes his best friend, the superb cook Callie Ruffin. As the novel unfolds we get an American small town perspective, filtered through Willie's eyes of murder, trials, journalism, the Vietnam War, Desegregation, the changing of small-town life, and the importance of religion in the South. Furthermore, you don't just get a narrator's perspective on these events--you see what the community thinks, especially when Traynor pens controversial editorials and articles.
You aren't just getting a novel when you pick up The Last Juror, you're getting a portrait of a small Mississippi town during the seventies. You're going to meet many friends and perhaps some old acquaintances if you've read A Time to Kill, set in the late eighties in the same town. Don't expect one of Grisham's legal thrillers, but if you want an excellent story with a realistic plot then you can't miss this. I wasn't ever bored, really enjoying the rich descriptive language and everything else. If you can I suggest trying the unabridged audio with Michael Beck.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the past !!, 15 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Juror (Hardcover)
For all those avid Grisham readers, this novel gives you greater insight into some characters of previous stories, Lucien Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner (from Time to Kill).
Going back to the 1970's and set, once again in Clanton, a young, ambitious journalist (Willie) finds himself as owner of the local newspaper. Willie tells the story of a brutal rape, murder and subsequent trial - which eventually comes back to haunt members of the Jury some years later.
The book is difficult to put down and, in usual Grisham style, encompasses various discussions on points of law and the radical views of the residents in Clanton. A great read !!!
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The Last Juror
The Last Juror by John Grisham (Paperback - 29 Nov 2004)
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