John Grisham: Taking the Law and Making it Readable

A good book has to keep me guessing, while completely engrossing my imagination in the action. I want the story in my mind to draw out raw emotion, cause the adrenaline flow fast and free, but take me on a rollercoaster of suspense.

And that’s why my favorite author is John Grisham.

A former lawyer, Grisham spent his free time working on first novel, A Time to Kill . The inspiration for the novel came after he heard the testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim in a courthouse, and set out to write a story based on if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants.

While that novel didn’t take off, his next work, The Firm , spurred a movie from Paramount Pictures and became the best-selling novel of 1991, establishing Grisham as the forefront author in the legal thriller genre. (Info:

A great example of why he is so good can be found in his recent release, The Confession.

The plot begins set in a Lutheran minister’s office, where a man walks in and confesses to the minister that he raped and killed a women many years ago – and later this week, someone else will be killed by the state of Texas for it.

What ensues is a roller coaster of emotions, as Grisham weaves together a story from the views of so many. The kid on death row? You piece together his story and history based on interactions seen with his lawyer, family, and history around the town. How’s the other side feeling about all this? You read it. And feel as if a complete story arc is being drawn right in front of your eyes.

Truth be told, the story is written with a minute attention to detail that almost forces your mind to create the story – you simply can’t help it. Not only are you enjoying the feasability of the story, but it’s tough to stop reading at the end of a chapter, because you know something just as important is in the pages to come.

But do you know how it’ll end? No. And that’s what made it so much more dramatic – I had three guesses, and whiffed on each of them – and I’ve read nearly every one of Grisham’s novels published before this one, so one would think I could have a bead on his writing style and what was to come.

Grisham also has a published non-fiction novel (The Innocent Man , a sombering look into a toxic-waste case) and a short-story collection (Ford County ). And according to his bio, he keeps up with baseball as a Little League Commissioner and spends plenty of time on charitable causes. He is also on the Board of Directors at The Innocence Project, an initiative to “assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing.” (

For me, it’s the combination of being a guy we can all root for, combined with stories that draw me into another world, that make me keep coming back for more when a new title comes out with the author’s name of John Grisham.

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