A few days ago I was all pumped to write this post. Then I started re-reading a Grisham book I hadn’t read in a while. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve re-read The King of Torts, and, to be perfectly honest, it turns out not to be my favourite Grisham of all time. It is suspenseful, but it is the just-how-badly-is-this-character-going-to-crash-and-burn sort of suspense instead of the are-they-going-to-pull-this-off sort of suspense that I prefer in Grisham books.
My favourite Grisham (in case you hadn’t figured it out from the title) is The Runaway Jury. RJ is a great will they pull this off kind of book. If you’ve seen the movie, purge that from your mind before reading the book. The adaptation totally changes the court case, and IMHO, kills the story. I don’t think you could possibly win the kind of suit filed in the movie, but the suit filed in the book seems possible. I like John Cusak and Gene Hackman, and I thought they were well cast for the movie, but was disappointed in the way the story was changed.
Ok, enough about the movie. I really like the book because it takes me to a location that I can picture. It creates the world of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in my head. I go back to it because I want to walk with Nicolas to the courthouse early in the morning and get a coffee at the deli on the way. I re-read it for the lunch scene in the restaurant on the opening day of the trial. The sense of place is very strong. I also love the characters. And I love the twist that you aren’t actually sure who the main character is. Who are you supposed to be cheering for? It isn’t really clear. And I like that.
There are some Grisham novels that interact fairly directly with theology (see particularly The Testament, The Last Juror, and The Confession). All of his novels do reflect on what it means to live well. Living well doesn’t always mean having the most cash though. Watch for that catch. Some of the characters in his novels think that is what defines living well, but it is quite clear that Grisham does not agree. Not all Grisham characters are redeemed either. I think that is also what I like. There is always an element of grace in his books, but not everyone accepts the grace that is offered.