My reading habit has been slowly deteriorating lately due to various commitments (especially to studies). So, when my last semester exams finished on December 13th, I decided I would get back on track as far as books were concerned and start reading books regularly. One of my friends said that John Grisham books were really good, posed several law-related problems and then used the law in ways we would never imagine to solve them. I decided that John Grisham it will be and went to the local library and picked up the first book I laid my eyes upon, The Last Juror. It took me a whole month to finish the book (again disturbed because of various commitments) but I can definitely say that this will not be my last John Grisham book.

The Last Juror follows the story of William Traynor (and is a first-person narrative from his perspetive), a dropout from Syracuse after having studied Journalism for 5 years. He joins The Ford County Times, a weekly newspaper in Ford County, Mississippi as an intern to pursue his interest in journalism. After the paper goes bankrupt in 1970, he takes money from his grandmother and buys the paper and becomes its Owner and Editor-in-Chief. He soon befriends a local, well-educated, married and God-fearing black woman named Callie Ruffin and even runs a humanity article about her in his paper.

The book takes place from 1969 to nearly 1980 and Grisham has done a good job in capturing many important things that happened in America during these years. Many things like the integration of black and white schools, the entry of shopping malls in local towns have all been given due attention. But these portions do not have anything to do with the main story and had they not been there, the main story would still remain unchanged.

The main story is itself very satisfying and has law as its focus (as is usual in Grisham books or so I am told). A young widow and mother to two (Rhoda Kassellaw) has been murdered by Danny Padgitt. Danny, however, comes from the Padgitt family, local drug dealers and mafia gang, who have connections going up till the town mayor. Punishment is out of the question but The Ford County times publishes all the grim details of the murder that makes the whole town believe Danny is the accused. Danny is sentenced to life by a special jury selected from all citizens who have the right to vote (of which, one is Callie Ruffin). However, Danny is paroled in 1978 and his revenge begins.

The best thing John Grisham has done is not to heavily fictionalize any of the characters in the book. The bond that forms between William and Callie is portrayed beautifully and so is the townsfolk change of attitude towards William as his paper grows in reputation. Even though some sequences in the middle don’t do a whole lot in terms of the story, they still help in moving the story forward and helps us identify with the main characters better. Even William getting bored of living in a small town has been portrayed naturally.

There is a small twist in the end though anybody who pays enough attention will immediately guess it. The conclusion, while not satisfying, is good in the context of the story and ties everything up neatly together though it unfolds only in the last 100 or so pages.

Overall, I can safely say that this is definitely not Grisham’s best work but it is definitely is worth a read for anyone who is a Grisham fan and will also offer a nice experience for those who are not.

On the topic of books, “Is Potter really good?”. I have not read a single book and was never really interested in Potter, wizards in school never caught my eye but still, because of all the hype The Deathly Hallows is getting, I went out and rented The Sorcerer’s Stone but have not yet started reading it. Now, I can take that swearing you just gave me and the mouse you threw at me, but please tell me, is it worth reading the six books in order before the seventh is released this July.