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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Runaway Jury
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
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
on October 27, 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
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. I like Grisham in large part because he doesn't have to be that dirty to write a good book. In Runaway Jury, he uses more language and sexual references than in many of his other books. In seems like he wants to keep the content level down, yet at the same time he wants to put a little adult material in. Grisham either should have toned it down (which I like best and usually turns out best) or lived a little and spiced it up a bit. In between simply doesn't work and makes the reader ponder which of these more mature portions Grisham actually put in himself, and which the editors edited in later on. Despite some complaints, and the knowing that Grisham can do better, Runaway Jury is still worth checking out sometime, especially if you are interested in the smoking and tobacco products subject of or are a fan of Grisham. See if you agree with my complaints though.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While I enjoyed the book for the most part, I was disappointed over-all. I think it was because it was so built up for me with all the hype and the movie, I had high expectations. Runaway Jury did not live up to them.
I agree with a previous reviewer who said that if you've read Grisham before, this is nothing to write home about. It's his regular type plot and story. And honestly, that makes this a bit of a plain book. I loved the premise of this book, almost comparing it to the movie 12 Angry Men. The thought that one person can sway a group in a trial situation is fascenating to me. However, this book did not keep me on the edge of my seat. Yes, there were a lot of sub-plots and things going on, but this book was just not successful in capturing my undivided attention.
The ending was ok. Like a few other Grisham books, the ending isn't his strong point. I'd recommend this book, but I guess I'd just say, reader beware. Don't expect a non-stop thrill ride with a shocking ending. This book isn't that at all. But for a solid story about trials, juries and schemes, this book does ok. For a much stronger story by Grisham read: The Street Lawyer, The Partner and The Firm.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is classic John Grisham - a novel so vacuous and simplistic the reader comes away amazed that he gets away with it time and again.

I defy anyone who has read the book to describe Nicholas or Marlee. There are both empty, characterless cyphers.

It is also frustrating how the core elements of the novel are mindnumbingly simplistic, such as the way in which Nicholas manages to convince members of the jury onto his side and the way Rankin overlooks the most obvious double-agent ever. It is also never explained how the "baddies" keep tabs on Marlee all the time except for when she manages to sneak into Nicholas' motel room. It's all just too ridiculous to even enjoy on a 'time wasting' level.

Also, the deceits perpetrated by the tobacco companies were so asinine and unlikely that the book became fantasy material and should be stocked alongside JRR Tolkien in the bookstores (sorry to sully Tolkien's good name by mentioning it in the same passage as Grisham).

The actual writing style is poor as well. Again, I challenge any reader to recall one line of memorable dialogue or perceptive description. There is none. Yet another disappointment from Grisham.

I paid $1 for this book in a sale, I feel ripped off.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Grisham is excellent at setting up suspense. The pacing of the book is remarkable as each new chapter reveals a bit more of the story. The supporting characters are particularly memorable. Hoppy, the husband of juror Millie, goes through such anguish in the real estate scam set up by the tobacco company that it really touches your heart. But feeling the inside of characters is where the novel seems to fall more into pop fiction than significant literature. Nicholas Easter, the lead, seems more like a mechanism than a man. We're not given enough inner life to see if he's madly in love with Marlee and motivated by that love; or if he's simply the disillusioned law student trying to write the wrongs of big tobacco. We see what he does and are riveted by the rush of events, but we don't feel what he feels. The character of Fitch, the dirty-dealing, jury-tampering intelligence of the tobacco companies is drawn appropriately sinister and dark. We see enough of him to be intrigued, but also miss enough of the man inside to really qualify him as an arch villain. This book works well as a page-burning suspense novel. With a little more insight into human nature, it might also have been a remarkable book. Enjoy Grisham for his command of pacing and sturcture; he is a master!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Runaway Jury" is a classic Grisham yarn. The plot romps along quickly and the courtroom drama is heaps of fun. It's hard not to get swept up in Grisham's high-stakes tobacco litigation, as cigarette manufacturer Pynex and its team of legal eagles spare no expense to defend themselves in a product liability lawsuit. The legal maneuvering and double-crossing tactics between Big Tobacco and the anti-tobacco operatives should keep your attention for the full 550 pages. But the implausibility of the plot and the mind-numbing shallowness of some of the characters will probably make you roll your eyes in frustration more than a few times. It's a harmless little book. But sticklers for plausibility may want to keep their distance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nicholas Easter has got himself onto the jury of one of the countrys biggest ever compensation cases, but why is he so interested in the verdict and why is he helping fellow jurors come to a decision.
Everyone has a view on the tobacco company case, but are the jury ordinary honest citizens, and is Nicholas really controlling the show, or is someone else pulling the strings. And the tobacco company, what's at stake if they lose.
Read the runaway jury and these questions will be answered in depth and as an inriguing plot with many turns.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
My only prior exposure to John Grisham was his movies. The Rainmaker is one of my favorite movies along with The Client. After reading a description of The Runaway Jury, it sounded interesting and so I gave it a shot. I finished the book cover-to-cover in 5 days (and I work full time!!).
The book mainly revolves around a large trial in the south involving the four largest tobacco manufacturers versus the widow of a man who died of lung cancer due to 30 years of smoking. Concerning the entire topic of smoking, Grisham does get rather preachy at certain points, blatantly pointing out his views about the subject, but I managed easily to look beyond that.
In this jury trial, something has gone wrong. The jury is being manipulated from the inside and neither the defense nor the prosecution can figure out how it's being done and who is doing it. This book is a page turner and very suspensful. It also plays on the "normal average joe winning the lottery" type situation (albeit after manipulating the lottery) that most people dream about. It's a great book that most people can relate to with characters that you really get to know. That is one of Grisham's greatest successes with this book. The ability to have his readers get to know his characters personally to the point where you really care what they are going through.
I highly recommend this book to Grisham fans, as well as those who have never read his books. It's a great way to jump in to the genre of legal thrillers.
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