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The Last Juror

A 2004 novel by John Grisham

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I felt a little cheated based on the jacket cover premise...

  • Mar 29, 2004
  • by
Although I'm not to the point with Grisham as I am with Patricia Corwell's Kay Scarpetta series, I'm getting a little burned out on uneven writing. I finished The Last Juror, Grisham's latest novel, and I can't say I liked it as much as I thought I would. The jacket cover led me to believe this was an action novel focused on revenge. The novel takes place in the 70's in Mississippi, and a small town is forever altered when a brutal murder and rape takes place. The killer is the son is some powerful criminal elements in the county, but they are unable to buy off the jury to acquit him of the crime. The jury convicts him of the murder but can't sentence him to death. After 10 years, he's released from prison and jurors start getting killed. Everyone thinks he is guilty due to a threat he made at the trial. All this action takes place against the backdrop of a young man who moves into the area, takes over the weekly local paper, and turns it into a powerful force of the community during all the changes that occurred in those turbulent times.

The novel is split up into three parts. The first one delivers on what I thought the novel would be. A crime, intrigue, fear, and tension. The crime is solved, justice is served, and the criminal is sent to jail. The second part then heads off in a direction that is completely detached from the main story. There's no action. It's just the advancement of the guy's career and life of running the paper. Even when the third part of the story kicks in, the action of jurors getting killed doesn't kick in until the last 50 pages or so. The ending twist comes up pretty quickly, and the final end of the novel sort of leaves you sitting there thinking "he ended it like *that*?"

If you were reading this for a human interest story covering the changes in the deep South during the 70's, it would work better in my opinion. But to build this up as a crime thriller and then basically drop that angle until the last few pages left me feeling a little cheated.

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More The Last Juror reviews
review by . March 29, 2011
Mississippi's Ford County local weekly newspaper hangs on the edge of bankruptcy and Willie Traynor, a rather shiftless ne'er do well college dropout, hears from a chum that a publication like the Ford County Times would be a veritable license to print money if it were properly run. With the help of a $50,000 loan from his doting grandmother, Willie assumes the ownership of the newspaper and begins the process of pulling the newspaper from its deep hole. Things are definitely looking up …
Quick Tip by . March 29, 2011
Grisham has moved up a very large notch. With The Last Juror, he has proven his ability to write compelling human drama that doesn't rely upon simple chills and thrills to make the reader turn the pages.
review by . April 02, 2010
The year is 1970, and callow college dropout Will Traynor, with six months of journalism experience, buys the local newspaper in Clanton, Mississippi. The business is moribund until a woman is raped and murdered, handing Will the opportunity to triple its circulation overnight. What follows is the story of the trial and its aftermath ten years later, when murderer is paroled. Along the way, Will, who has morphed into "Willie", makes some good friends and some colorful ones, learns about and finds …
review by . May 10, 2006
The Last Juror by John Grisham is not his typical legal thriller, but is more a coming of age story of a young reporter, Willie Traynor and the southern town he comes to call his home. He comes to Clanton as a college dropout, working as a cub reporter on the town's small newspaper. Within a couple of months, the owner of the newspaper has died and Willie, through a helpful investment from a rich relative, finds himself the owner, publisher and editor of the paper. Soon after he assumes ownership, …
review by . March 01, 2005
The Last Juror is a very intriguing story and I was pleased to learn more about the southern town of Clanton, Mississippi where Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was also set.  Being a life-long journalist, former newspaper owner, and current author, I particularly related to the newspaper angle in this book.  Grisham is the master of the courtroom, so I'm glad he's back haunting the "halls of justice." It's a page-turner, as I find all of Grisham's work. His superb style …
review by . February 09, 2005
"The Last Juror" is a bit of anomaly. There are many times when I have read non-fiction and found it hard to believe that the story is TRUE. While reading "The Last Juror" I had to keep reminding myself that it was in fact fiction. Such is the charm of Grisham's novel... it is warm, chraming and, at times, thrilling.     The actual story is fairly predictable and at points, brutally slow. Another slight annoyance is Grisham's portrayal of northern Mississippi. I feel that he …
review by . June 23, 2004
Not exactly what I'm used to from a Grisham novel, but a decent story nonetheless. Tale is set in Clanton, Mississippi, where a young man with his rich aunt as a benefactor is able to purchase the town's only newspaper, the Times. Circulation is decent at best, until a spectactular murder occurs with a member of the town's most notorious crime family (the Padgitts) as the prime suspect. In a world where justice is for sale and judges are for hire, a jury of 12 of the suspect's peers find him guilty …
review by . March 06, 2004
Small town Mississippi a few decades back. A secretive gangster family, corrupt politicians and a young widow just trying to get on with her life - until it is rudely terminated in gruesome rape and murder. A young man buys the local newspaper and propels himself into the soul of this yahoo paradise.   The prosecution of the accused is told through the newspaper editor's eyes. Along the way he is befriended by an African-American woman of remarkable character, who becomes the first black …
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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In 1970, small town newspaperThe Clanton Timeswent belly up. With financial assistance from a rich relative, it's purchased by 23-year-old Willie Traynor, formerly the paper's cub reporter. Soon afterward, his new business receives the readership boost it needs thanks to his editorial efforts and coverage of a particularly brutal rape and murder committed by the scion of the town's reclusive bootlegger family. Rather than shy from reporting on the subsequent open-and-shut trial (those who oppose the Padgitt family tend to turn up dead in the area's swampland), Traynor launches a crusade to ensure the unrepentant murderer is brought to justice. When a guilty verdict is returned, the town is relieved to find the Padgitt family's grip on the town did not sway the jury, though Danny Padgitt is sentenced to life in prison rather than death. But, when Padgitt is released after serving less than a decade in jail and members of the jury are murdered, Clanton once again finds itself at the mercy of its renegade family.

When it comes, the dénouement is no surprise; The Last Juror is less a story of suspense than a study of the often idyllic southern town of Clanton, Mississippi (the setting for Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill). Throughout the nine years between Padgitt's trial and release, Traynor finds acceptance in Clanton, where the people "don't really trust you unless they trusted your grandfather." He grows from a ...

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ISBN-10: 044024157X
ISBN-13: 978-0440241577
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Dell
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