The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

A legal, crime thriller from the master that is John Grisham was the next book on my list to tackle. As someone that had already seen the film adaptation of this book starring John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, I knew this book was going to be a suspense driven ride and I wasn’t disappointed. (Let me first point out that if you have seen the film, please do read the book – the story is slightly different to the film plot, and I think better.)

Set against the backdrop of Mississippi, Grisham delves into the messy business of litigation –specifically tobacco litigation. Up until this point, the big tobacco companies have always won the trials, but with the plaintiff’s case looking strong, both sides are ready for all out war. Dirty tactics are being played on both sides to help get the jury on their side, but both sets of lawyers don’t count on the jury themselves trying to be controlled by a third-party. Soon the jury are sequestered and it becomes a game of who can secure the verdict first.

John Grisham weaves a fantastic plot which has great pace, suspenseful and a book that I truly wished I didn’t have to finish. The legal jargon can be a little complex, but not enough to boggle your brains entirely, and it is the actions of the characters and the intricate details that Grisham goes into that really allows the story to come alive. Rankin Fitch, a consultant of sorts for the defence and head of the dirty tactics club is a character that throughout the book, you’re mostly feeling hatred towards; but at times his wit and his sheer drive to achieve mean that you end up becoming more intrigued as to what he’ll do next to succeed.

Grisham keeps you guessing for most of the book as to the secrets of the insider on the jury – I wasn’t let down by the final reveal, and despite the fact this book was written almost 20 years ago, it’s still quite a classic to this day, thanks to the popularity of John Grisham. I fully recommend this book – a brilliant read, one I wish had not ended.

“The horde of legal analysts and scholars closely watching the trial agreed on little, but they were unified in their prediction that a unanimous, twelve-vote verdict in favor of Pynex would chill, if not completely freeze, tobacco litigation for a decade.

Fitch was determined to deliver one, whatever the cost.” (The Runaway Jury, p301)