June 30, 1996

“The Runaway Jury” by John Grisham

Reviewed by Mark Lindquist
New York Times Book Review

In his latest novel, John Grisham returns to his favorite theme: cleverness prospers. He’s also still hooked on the idea of the underdog who cons the evil cabal and scores big.

“The Runaway Jury” follows several vaguely developed characters as they attempt to manipulate the jurors in a high-stakes lawsuit against a tobacco company. Little of this plot is legal or realistic — but it is, of course, clever. Mr. Grisham has an unfortunate habit of concealing information and then revealing it for a quick plot jolt. This was less irritating in earlier novels like “The Firm,” in which there was also a point of view, a distinctive voice and some character development.

On the other hand, what do such quibbles matter, with a first printing of 2.8 million copies? Mr. Grisham, it seems, is living proof of his favorite theme.

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