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The Runaway Jury Mass Market Paperback – January 27, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

Millions of dollars are at stake in a huge tobacco-company case in Biloxi, and the jury's packed with people who have dirty little secrets. A mysterious young man takes subtle control of the jury as the defense watches helplessly, but they soon realize that he in turn is controlled by an even more mysterious young woman. Lives careen off course as they bend everyone in the case to their will. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Grisham is either remarkably prescient or just plain lucky; because with public concerns about the tobacco companies heating up, and two major nonfiction books currently garnering a lot of attention, he has come up with a tobacco-suit novel that lights up the courtroom. In a Mississippi Gulf Coast town, the widow of a lifelong smoker who died prematurely of lung cancer is suing Big Tobacco. Enter Rankin Fitch, a dark genius of jury fixing, who has won many such trials for the tobacco companies and who foresees no special problems here. Enter also a mysterious juror, Nicholas Easter, whom Fitch's army of jury investigators and manipulators can't quite seem to track-and his equally mysterious girlfriend Marlee, who soon shows Fitch she knows even more about what's happening in the jury room than he does. The details of jury selection are fascinating and the armies of lawyerly hangers-on and overpaid consultants that surround such potentially profitable (to either side) cases are horribly convincing. The cat-and-mouse game played between Nicholas, Marlee and Fitch over the direction of the jury quickly becomes hair-raising as the stakes inch ever higher. As usual with Grisham, the writing is no more than workmanlike, the characterizations are alternatively thin and too broad, but all is redeemed by his patented combination of expertise and narrative drive. What makes The Runaway Jury his most rewarding novel to date is that it is fully enlisted in an issue of substance, in which arguments of genuine pith are hammered out and resolved in a manner that is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. It's a thriller for people who think, and Jesse Helms won't like it one bit. First printing of 2.8 million; major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (May) ~ Mystery
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Dell Publishing; Reprint edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440221471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440221470
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (601 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

Photo credit Maki Galimberti

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Egger, author of Grave Accusations on April 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was an extremely enjoyable book, but it wasn't exactly a mystery as to what was happening or going to happen, as are most of Grisham's other books. I found the most entertaining part to be the way the characters interacted, and usually it's the courtroom pizazz and the plot twists and turns with Grisham. In this book, you can see what's coming -- but it almost makes you enjoy the book all the more because it makes you laugh at the establishment that's getting duped, or actually participating in being duped. Grisham could never write a bad book, and it appears in this one he focused more on people and their frailties, greed and humanity. I loved the scenes between our hero and the judge. AND the way the hero juror bosses everyone around. I'm not sure too many jurors in America know the power they really have in cases. As a police reporter, I've seen far too many jurors be afraid of the judge and in awe of the attorneys. Too many don't understand that they, as jurors, truly run the show and ARE the judges of the case.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian Quinn on October 26, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham is a very well written courtroom drama about a fictitious tobacco litigation case with an interesting plot twist with the plots of Nicholas Easter and Marlee. I won't go more into it so as not to spoil the fun of reading this plot for those who have not read the book as of yet. The thing I liked most about the plot is that no one seemed to be a "good guy" in all of this despite the fact that on the bad guy side there were the tobacco companies. Because of the way the characters were set, no one came off as a good guy and everyone came off kind of scummy. This is an interesting way for an author to approach a story and one that makes a reader more captivated than they otherwise would be in my opinion.
Characters on the whole were well developed, though he seemed to come right out and say what the characteristics of the characters were rather than inferring their nature through conversations and actions. However, it seemed that Grisham was aiming for a straight forward, easy read so in that respect he accomplished what he was going for. Overall, there may have been too many characters that made it a little hard to follow at times, but given the nature of the plot, a large cast of characters was necessary.
Overall, I felt that this story was fairly well told and is one of the better books put out there by Grisham having read some of his others. The language of the book is clear and concise with very little unnecessary embellishment of his prose to provide for a quick read. At the same time, some issues could have been improved in the same area because it seemed a little too clear cut.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By G. Roger Priddy on March 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Runaway Jury is an interesting read. The book keeps your attention most of the time, and leads you face to face with a number of various hot issues, the most important of which being tobacco products and nicotine (do they cause death?) This is worth reading, yet I still found myself quite disappointed with the overall work. From past experience reading Grisham's novels, I know he can do a lot better than this. First of all, I simply did not like the main characters. Why Grisham makes his seemingly "good guys" so unlikeable in this one is beyond me. He wrote it as if he wanted and intended for you to hate them. This threw me off at times completely. It actually got to the point where I found myself rooting for whom Grisham clearly identifys as the "bad guys" in the book. Rankin Fitch for the tobacco companies was so much more well developed than the juror in control and the other good guys. I don't smoke, and agree the nicotine in cigarettes is addictive. Yet I found myself hoping, even cheering for the tobacco companies. The good guys are such losers I wanted the bad guys to win. As usual (for anyone who has read any book by Grisham), the ending is predictable, though I found myself wishing it would go the other way. And there is clearly too much courtroom talk. Grisham fails to realize, as the jurors get bored with certain testimony, the reader probably will too (at times I did). Books seem to always be best too if you can limit the main characters. Here, Grisham has 12 (the jurors) plus many more, and there is simply too much to keep up with, and some of the characters are simply a bore, and the passages about them are difficult to get through. Grisham also seems to be edgy about the content he wants to be in this one.Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Bull on November 11, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
We tend to categorize Grisham’s novels into three groups: fast-paced thrillers, like the “Pelican Brief” and “The Firm”; slow paced dramas, like “The Chamber” and “A Painted House”; and a middle group of “message stories” that mix the characteristics of the other two. “Jury” falls into that third class, featuring mostly courtroom drama but with the intrigue of jury tampering and manipulation thrown in for good measure. It’s also a bit of a “preachy” book as Grisham uses some 500 pages to tell us how bad smoking is (like we didn’t know?). The story deals with a wrongful death case brought by a smoker’s widow against a big tobacco company. While the timely (especially in 1996) premise gets our early attention, there’s probably more details than anybody ever wanted about jury selection and processing, which slows the story down quite a bit. To many readers, the outcome will be worth the wait, as the latter part of the book bristles with suspense.
This is the author’s seventh book of (now) 14. To us it is neither his best nor worst, but a very typical, reasonably good entry in this best-selling genre Grisham practically invented (apologies to Perry Mason!).
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