Book Review - The Last Juror By John Grisham
Although I'm not to the point with Grisham as I am with Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, I'm getting a little burned out on uneven writing. I finished The Last Juror, Grisham's latest novel, and I can't say I liked it as much as I thought I would. The jacket cover led me to believe this was an action novel focused on revenge. The novel takes place in the 70's in Mississippi, and a small town is forever altered when a brutal murder and rape takes place. The killer is the son of some powerful criminal elements in the county, but they are unable to buy off the jury to acquit him of the crime. The jury convicts him of the murder but can't sentence him to death. After 10 years, he's released from prison and jurors start getting killed. Everyone thinks he is guilty due to a threat he made at the trial. All this action takes place against the backdrop of a young man who moves into the area, takes over the weekly local paper, and turns it into a powerful force of the community during all the changes that occurred in those turbulent times.
The novel is split up into three parts. The first one delivers on what I thought the novel would be. A crime, intrigue, fear, and tension. The crime is solved, justice is served, and the criminal is sent to jail. The second part then heads off in a direction that is completely detached from the main story. There's no action. It's just the advancement of the guy's career and life of running the paper. Even when the third part of the story kicks in, the action of jurors getting killed doesn't happen until the last 50 pages or so. The ending twist comes up pretty quickly, and the final end of the novel sort of leaves you sitting there thinking "he ended it like *that*?"
If you were reading this for a human interest story covering the changes in the deep South during the 70's, it would work better in my opinion. But to build this up as a crime thriller and then basically drop that angle until the last few pages left me feeling a little cheated.