18 May 2020

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Book Review / The Last Juror by John Grisham

In 1970, one of Mississippi s more colorful weekly newspapers, The Ford County Times, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by a 23-year-old college dropout, named 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. Willie Traynor reported all the gruesome details, and his newspaper began to prosper.

The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courthouse in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling and 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.

Published:     3rd February 2004
Publisher:  Delta
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


There's nothing like the feeling when you open up to the first page of one of your favourite authors to a book that you have not yet read.  I know this story has been around for a while but this is one that I had never got around to reading and this is one that I was eagerly anticipating getting to as I work my way through reading his novels - I had read a lot of his previous works already but this one I had not.

In this story, we follow Willie Traynor whose wealthy grandmother gives him the money to buy a local newpaper business.  Willie is a keen reporter not willing to just stick with the normal or 'do what was done before'.  You then have the attempted rape and murder of a young mother and a suspect is captured but this is not just any normal suspect, it is a Padgitt.  The Padgitt family have been in town for decades and they are not shy to criminal activity and using their own acts of persuasion to get their own way.   Willie, not being worried about the ramifications of his 'scandalous' reporting, continues to post the truth as much as he can irrespective of who might get upset or whether his life might be in danger.

This was a very slow paced read, which I really enjoyed, despite the fact you would have thought it would be more fast paced and based on why there is 'The Last Juror'.  To be honest, that is only a small aspect to this story.  We follow different characters in this story, follow how the town reacts to the murder, see what levels of corruption goes on in the town and watch as the years go by then the case is heard, appeals take place and, finally, jurors are in trouble.  This is a style of writing that I have seen before in John Grisham's novels and that I enjoy the most.

Don't go into this story thinking it will be about the jurors and the trouble they are going to get in.  This is more about the process of law; from the act itself, the court case, length of time in between where life still goes on, appeals and then at the end of the novel we have the jurors.  This story is more about the journey than the ending and I loved that.