Tuesday, December 28, 2004

John Grisham's The Last Juror finally came out in paperback so I picked it up and read it two Sundays ago. As previously noted, I never buy his books in hardback anymore since they only take a few hours to read through. Recently Grisham has had trouble deciding whether he wants to be a passable trashy law fiction writer or a passable trashy historical fictional narrative writer. He's dabbled in both, generally unsuccessfully since people who like one of his styles will hate the other.

This book is another hybrid which fails on both levels. The title and the book summary set it up to be another courtroom thriller but it turns into a small-town snoozer with a minimum of sensible resolution (the last juror referenced doesn't even play much of a role in the major plot thrust). Grisham also tries to toy with the standard chronology (introduction, building excitement, climax, resolution), choosing to split his book into three parts. The first builds like a law thriller then peters out. The second keeps feeling like the thriller part should come back, but ends up being a small town biopic instead. The third has some tension, but ends with a stupid resolution involving a character that got maybe two pages of face time.

As usual, Grisham's characterizations are laughable, especially when it involves women and/or sex. If you want a book to read in the airport, stick with one of his more effective page-turners, anything written before 1996, or The Brethren, the only recent book of his worth reading.

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