The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courthouse in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling and dramatic end when the defendant threatened revenge against the jurors if they convicted him. Nevertheless, they found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
But in Mississippi in 1970, "life" didn't necessarily mean "life," and nine years later Danny Padgitt managed to get himself paroled. He returned to Ford County, and the retribution began.
©2004 Belfry Holdings, Inc.; (P)Random House, Inc., Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Here [John Grisham] is back in the fictitious town of Clanton, Miss., re-establishing the storytelling skills and sense of place that put him on the map....The Last Juror does not need to coast on its author's megapopularity. It's a reminder of how the Grisham juggernaut began." (The New York Times)
"The Last Juror" includes an ensemble of interesting characters in a setting brought to life with Southern culture, customs and dialect. It was difficult to pause once I was listening. I give it 4.5 at least.
This novel is more a series a vignettes or short stories than a serious courtroom thriller. I found myself caught up in the initial murder case but then led astray with all sorts of sidebars and meanderings into Southern culture, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, elements which I had thought were intended as background scenery but which unexpectedly became the main characters. If you do not find these topics of consuming interest you will soon be yawning and hitting the fast-forward button on your iPod. However, the trademark Grisham gifts abound and the narrator does an excellent job of characterization and rendering various Southern dialects. It's a good "listen", just not in the best-of-Grisham class.
I enjoyed the the book but the plot loses steam about half way through the story. The mystery is wrapped up nicely in the final pages of the book, but in a very predictable way. The character development is good but the main character's personality seems to change in the middle of the story along with his wardrobe, neither making much sense. Many of the more notable supporting characters from Grisham's other books appear again in The Last Juror, making for an entertaining supporting cast. Michael Beck does a wonderful job in defining the unique southern characters through his voice. Even with the weak plot, this book is worth a listen if you enjoy John Grisham.
Listeners looking for a courtroom thriller should look elsewhere. The Last Juror has little to do with juries or the courtroom. It has much to do with a broad canvas painting of a small, Southern town during the decade of the 1970s. This painting begins with a terrible crime and arrest. Predictably it moves on to the trial and the selection of the jury.
But somewhere along the way, the story takes a casual turn. Instead of the tight, focused story Grisham's readers have come to expect, Mr. Grisham changes course and spends more time on the diffuse background of the town and its characters. This reader had the distinct feeling that the author ran out of his story a quarter of the way in and changed his mind.
The rambling tale that follows is good... but is not the stuff of Grisham fame. Readers, who want courtroom action, would be much better off passing on this book and looking for other Grisham favorites.
Michael Beck does an outstanding job with the performance of this book. In fact, it is his personification of the characters in Grisham's tale that raises the rating on this audiobook. Once the listener figures out that this is no longer a courtroom shocker, but is a mural painting of the South, he or she can comfortably enjoy Beck's sourthern charms. Beck is more the draw with this audiobook than is the book itself.
Simple story, easy to listen to. Hard to stop listening. Narrator is realy great and makes the story come alive. One of the better audio books i've "read".
I would give this book two stars based on the two stars of the book: a.) Character development, and b.) Michael Becks performance. Beyond that, I can't help but feel like I've wasted several hours on this book.
The book begins with a good story line with potential for a lot of suspense. Somewhere along the way, the character development takes over. We learn much about the small town, its history, and all of its inhabitants. The plot starts to take a back seat. There isn't much suspense again until close to the end (with several hints of an imminent plot twist). The anticipated climactic finish is very disappointing.
This was my first Grisham book. The story was well written, no doubt he is a good writer. I gave it only 3 stars because it did drag a lot and he seemed to go off on many tangents that took away from the book. I don't feel he got into the MAIN plot enough. Maybe the apparent main plot was really a subplot and the other plot "relationships" was really the main plot. I found the book entertaining. I would like to make a note on how fantastic the reader, Michael Beck is. He deserves 6 stars out of the possible 5. I would really like to hear him again and will check out Grisham again so I can. He changed character voices like no one I have ever heard.
I hope that this book is an indication that Grisham is returning to the original style that I fell in love with. I had stopped reading his books around the time of The Street Lawyer and the Run Away Jury and a friend convinced me to listen to The Last Juror. This was his best work in my opinion.
John Grisham writes beautiful book. The language is mesmirizing, the characters are loveable, the story kept me coming back to listen to just a little more, and more, and more.
What I appreciated most was the craft and artistry that Grisham displayed in describing the 9 years between the trial and the retribution that came next. A lesser author would have made it a transition paragraph rather than the take the opportunity to beguile us with the characters, let us experience the character growth, and the convey the development of that small town. I fell in love with the place as well as its population.
For its production value, this is the best audio book I have listened to. The reader uses a different voice and accent for each character so that it sounds like you have a different reader for each part. There is never any confusion as to who is speaking. As for the story, I predicted the villain by halfway through, so I would have been more pleased with more suspense. However, the puzzle of the book title had me thinking one way up until the last chapter, when I realized who the last juror really was.
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