Books - Review

Showing all books by: John Grisham

The Brethren
Can't remember. A group of judges maybe? Re-read this in August 2001. First book read twice in Cambodia! The judges are in prison and run a blackmail scam, but unwittingly target a possible future president, with rather intriguing consequences. Re-read again in October 2007. Still entertaining.
Typical Grisham really. I quite liked it!
Score: 7
Published: tbc
Read: April 30th 2001

A Painted House
Unusually, a novel with no lawyers in it. A small boy grows up in cotton growing country in the 40's. Bit of family intrigue and a couple of murders...
Bought this in Thailand for the last day on the beach and the journey home. Quite enjoyed it but I think he does better with the city lawyer types rather than this, although the Times said it was his best yet...
Score: 7
Published: tbc
Read: February 16th 2002

The Pelican Brief
Darby, young attractive law student holds the key to the sensational murder of two high court justices.
Typical Grisham, quite enjoyed it, read it very quickly
Score: 6.5
Published: tbc
Read: August 7th 2002

The Street Lawyer
Michael Brock, brainy corporate lawyer gets a shock when a street bum holds him and some colleagues in their own conference room at gunpoint. The incident ends in the death of the poor old man, but the message stays with Michael and his mid-life crisis sets in early (32) and he leaves the big firm, stealing a file on the way, to join the street lawyers led by Mordecai Green, searching for the idealism he once felt as a law student. He gets to sue his old firm on the way, over some illegal evictions, but that works out fine in the end as the firm's owner turns out to have a heart of gold too - he just needed reminding of it.
Jolly entertaining, and totally believable - hooray for mid-life crises, that's what I say. Good story, solid characters, super courtroom action, not too complicated for my little brain to follow, and the good old underdog defeats the nasty big heartless corporation once more.
Score: 7.5
Published: tbc
Read: November 6th 2002

A Time to Kill
Jake Brigance is an idealistic lawyer in a southern town who takes on the case of Lee Hailey who killed the two rednecks who raped his 10 year old daughter. Clearly guilty of murder, can Jake get him off?
Typical Grisham, entertaining courtroom stuff with the usual stirring speeches, surprise revelations from witnesses, deadlocked juries and corrupt lawyers. And some Ku Klux Klan violence thrown in for good measure.
Score: 7
Published: 1989
Read: January 14th 2003

The Rainmaker
Rudy Baylor is just finishing law school when he comes across a bad faith insurance case - Great Benefit have refused to pay for for Donny Ray's bone marrow transplant and he is now dying. Leaving school he fails to get a decent job, so sets off on his own, under the wing of Bruiser, a corrupt lawyer who is being chased by the Feds.
Not bad I guess, entertaining for sure. Bit obvious though.
Score: 6
Published: 1995
Read: January 21st 2003

The Testament
Billionaire leaves a will giving all his wealth to missionary daughter in the jungle, not his greedy kids back home who spend it quicker than he can give it to them. Alcoholic lawyer bloke has to go down into S American jungle to find missionary woman.
Not bad, but clearly grasping for new storylines, and not quite making it convincing. I liked the bit where the lawyer chappy got dengue fever though.
Score: 7
Published: 1999
Read: January 30th 2004

The Last Juror
Young and idealistic newspaper editor in Clanton befriends key jury member in trial of horrible rapist/murderer. He gets out after 10 years and starts killing people.
Hmm, not bad and he's trying to put more social history/commentary into this one I think. Re-read Mar 06 on hols in Exeter.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2004
Read: March 6th 2005

The Summons
Judge dies, leaving $3m under the sideboard for his two sons to work out what to do with. Mind you, some baddies want it too.
Yeah OK I guess, usual Grisham stuff, only maybe not so much lawyering in it.
Score: 6.5
Published: 2002
Read: August 17th 2005

The Client
10 year old Mark Sway tries to stop drunken dodgy lawyer killing himself, but in the process learns his dying secret of location of the mafia-victim body. So Mark becomes target for both the Mafia and the FBI trying to nail the killer. Fortunately, he meets a lovely lady lawyer who agrees to take his case for the fee of $1, and she knows just how the local judge should be handled (as opposed to the FBI, who don't, and are arrogant and stupid. Again)
OK I guess. Same old same old.
Score: 7
Published: 1993
Read: December 7th 2005

The Broker
The CIA wants to try and have the Broker killed for some reason but they can't do it. So he has to go and live in Italy and learn Italian.
Must try and stop buying John Grishams. Although, as usual, has to be read to the end to see what happens. But now, 2 weeks later, I haven't got a clue.
Score: 5
Published: 2005
Read: February 20th 2006

The King of Torts
Lawyer Clay is a hard-working public defender but then he gets sucked into the sleazy world of mass torts - soliciting hundreds of clients who have a case against a huge corporation and and creaming off one third of the compensation. He makes 100,000,000 very quickly and buys a jet, but then things start to unravel...
So there's more to life than money?
Score: 7
Published: 2003
Read: June 29th 2008

The Appeal
A pair of married lawyers win a big case against an evil polluting chemical company. But then it goes to appeal and there is an election pending for a new supreme court justice. So the chemists secretly fund a massive campaign to get their tame judge elected so the verdict will go their way.
Tedious, nothing very exciting ever happens. Read this on the plane on the way to Exeter to start new job!
Score: 5
Published: 2008
Read: June 26th 2009

The Associate
Kyle is a law student, but is tangentially involved in a potential rape/assault thing while very very drunk. Then he gets blackmailed by mysterious organisation, and forced to join big law firm so he can steal their secrets But he does his best to resist and ends up going to the FBI, and the story fizzles out.
Bit yawn-inducing, but ok for reading on the plane back from Southampton. Must stop buying John Grishams. Again.
Score: 5
Published: 2009
Read: January 21st 2010

A Painted House
Luke, small boy growing up in rural cotton-growing country in the 50s(?) only wants to play baseball really, but has to work terribly hard on the farm. Then at picking season the usual migrant workers arrive, a group of Mexicans and a group of hill-people. Tensions build between them as young fiery Mexican (with knife) causes problems as does attractive young hill-person girl.
Even Geoff said I can't believe you're reading another John Grisham. Not bad though actually. Grrrrrr. OK - have just realised that I have read this before and written up a review!!! (The cover picture appeared before I'd even uploaded it) Unbelievable. Well I'm going to leave both separate reviews in here as a kind of lesson not to read ANY MORE JOHN GRISHAM.
Score: 7
Published: 2001
Read: March 28th 2010

The Innocent Man
True story this time. Ron is a has-been baseball player, but is now a drug addict with mental problems. He becomes the chief suspect when a young woman gets raped and murdered and he gets persecuted by the lazy police and nasty prosecutor.
Not anohter one.
Score: 6
Published: 2006
Read: June 3rd 2010

The Confession
Lawyers/nasty prosecutors try to save/kill bloke on death row, who confessed under duress to killing a young woman 10 years ago. In the middle of this drama the real killer pops up claiming responsibility - but few people believe him, without seeing the body.
Another Grisham, another plane flight. Quite enjoyed this one though.
Score: 7
Published: 2010
Read: March 31st 2011

The Litigators
Big firm lawyer suffers burn-out and leaves to join rag-tag ambulance chasers in rough part of town. They chase big mass tort case against big-pharma, and while they ultimately fail, other more modest successes led to a happy ending.
Usual stuff.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2011
Read: November 3rd 2014

Gray Mountain
A young woman lawyer, whose name escapes me (let's call her Jill), gets sacked from her high pressure but ultimately unfullfilling job as a property lawyer in New York as a result of the global financial crash. Jill goes to work as an intern for a publicly-funded law charity organisation who work for free in the Appalachian mountains of, I'm going to guess, Virginia. There she meets Dominic Gray and his brother (let's call him Bob), both of them activists against the nasty big-corporation strip-mining outfits that are destroying the environment and killing people on a regular basis - sometimes by rolling huge boulders down the mountains, sometimes by ignoring the fact that miners tend to get black lung disease, which kills them slowly and painfully. Jill gets involved with Dominic (a bit), Bob, (a lot) and the cause of justice (heaps). Blah blah blah...
What can I say - a moment of weakness at Wellington airport, and another Grisham somehow ends up in my hands. This one was notable for a middle section where he totally overdid the touring round of mining sites to view the terrible damage they do to the natural world, and to learn of the destruction of communities that is considered mere collateral damage. One or two nice little side-plots eg making the will for the argumentative family, and being arrested on arrival by the local nutter posing as a cop, but overall just more of the same old stuff. So an entertaining easy read of course - but so formulaic. This was the trip back from Wellington where I started to feel really ill and sat in the taxi back home shivering with fever, and had to go to bed for 3 days. Not sure it was related to the book though.
Score: 5
Published: 2015
Read: July 7th 2015

The Racketeer
Memory failing. The front cover says He was betrayed by the FBI. Now he wants revenge... So it was probably that. Dead judge, clever lawyer in prison puts together cunning strategy to get released. Witness protection. Blah blah.
Actually this one was pretty good in terms of racy plot and action. Enjoyable thriller. Just looking up date published on Wikipedia - there are lots I have not read. Hmm.... Bought this one from library for 1$
Score: 7.5
Published: 2012
Read: June 8th 2017

Rogue Lawyer
Street lawyer takes on the impossible cases, defending the indefensible. All in pursuit of justice.
Yes, well, another Grisham. Entertaining as usual.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2016
Read: March 5th 2019

The Rooster Bar
Three law students at Foggy Bottom law school are realising that they have been duped into studying law with the promise of high-paying jobs once they pass the bar exam allowing them to pay off their massive student loans. However the teaching is terrible, the students (generally) are not your typical bright sparks and the three struggling would-be lawyers, aided by their bi-polar (but sadly suicidal) friend, work out that someone is making a lot of money from the set up. So they drop out, pretend to be lawyers and go to work for themselves...
Well, a bit rubbish really, everyone cheats and lies to make money, and our three heroes are no exception. But maybe that's the point. Grisham tells us he based this on some real investigative journalism...
Score: 6.5
Published: 2017
Read: July 31st 2020

The Reckoning
Pete, a second world war hero, suddenly decides to kill the local pastor. He does so, and is arrested, put on trial for murder, and offering no defence at all, is convicted and sentenced to death. Then we get the back story of his heroic wartime service in the Philippines, captured by the Japanese, escaping and operating behind enemy lines, while at home his wife struggles with loneliness on the family farm.
Pretty good story, including some convincing wartime action, and a great twist at the end.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2018
Read: October 11th 2020

The Whistler
The Florida Board for Investigation of Corruptness usually only gets involved in pretty innocuous stuff, but when a whistle-blower informs them of a very corrupt judge who has stolen millions, and has ties to the local mafia who have been skimming cash from the local indian casino for years, Lucy and her partner have to step up their game.
Good Grisham
Score: 7
Published: 2016
Read: November 12th 2020