The Last Juror, by John Grisham
John Grisham has been writing for a while, and his history is pretty fascinating. He started his career as a lawyer and practiced for about 10 years before his first book came out. He gained popularity soon after and mostly quit practicing law. He now has written 35 books, and almost a dozen have been made into movies. This was the first of his books that I have read, but I have seen a few of his movies over the years and liked them.
The Last Juror is about the trial of Danny Padgitt, a young man from a large corrupt family, for the rape and murder of a young widow, Rhoda Kassellaw. The widow had two young children, who at least partially witnessed her rape and murder. The Padgitt family has a long history of buying off the local lawmen and judges, but no one knows if they will be able to continue that streak after such a horrific, brutal crime.
Willie Traynor is the editor of the local paper, a 23 year old college dropout who is looking for his way in the world. Traynor covers the trial, and over time, earns the trust and respect of the local community that he is now a part of.
The book is set in the 1970s and 1980s, and explores small town American, racism and political corruption. Grisham’s storytelling style weaves these central themes into the story effortlessly, as he explores Willie Traynor’s budding friendship with Miss Callie Ruffin, the last juror selected for the Padgitt trial and the first black person to serve on a jury in Ford County. Traynor has to slowly work his way into the community, which has a distrust for outsiders, but over the years, they begin to see him as their own.
There is plenty to digest in this courtroom drama/thriller, and his descriptions make you want to take a drive on the back roads of the deep south.
This book was another of the CD audiobooks that I have been working my way through, and it is narrated by Michael Beck, whose style I really enjoyed.