Kathryn Lucas's Reviews > The Runaway Jury

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
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Apr 12, 2012

did not like it
Read in January, 2012

I'm glad I didn't pay for this book. Our apartment building has a bookcase in front of the elevator, and someone in the building must be a Grisham fan, because I've picked up several of his books from the communal bookcase. This is the worst of the Grishams that I've read.

What annoyed me the most was the sheer implausibility of the whole story. The civil tobacco trial itself was plausible enough, but the jury foreman protagonist and his accomplice on the outside have a plan to influence the trial (via the jury verdict) that is so ridiculously far-fetched that it's impossible for anyone with common sense to buy into the idea that this could succeed. Without giving anything away, they've been hopping from tobacco trial to tobacco trial (in other states where big tobacco trials have been scheduled previously), changing names, registering to vote in each new state, and *miraculously* getting called for jury duty right when the big tobacco case was happening, and *miraculously* getting called to be in the jury pool for that particular trial (as opposed to the myriad other civil and criminal trials happening on the same day that also need jurors), only to fall just short of getting seated on a jury -- until this case, when they finally manage to get the protagonist on the jury and put their master scheme into action. The whole plot just unacceptably begs belief, and I lost patience with it rather quickly.

After about the 1/3 point, I was just reading to see how it ended, not because I cared about any of the characters or the outcome of the trial, but just to get answers to the protagonists' true intentions and motivations, which you don't learn until the very end. I think this is why it was such a frustrating book for me. I would prefer to have someone to root for in a book, and when you are not privy to the motivations or goals of the main character (when, in essence, you have no idea whether he's a decent guy or a selfish jerk) you can't feel invested in that character or the story.
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03/26 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Marina I agree with you, largely because I felt there was very little character development when it came to the protagonists of the story.. While the plot itself seems far fetched, it's certainly suspenseful and is a compelling read, although I felt the momentum of the story stagnating at certain points and had to force myself to continue, because I needed to know the motivation behind all the plotting.

I didn't care about the two protagonists because I didn't know them, even at the end of the book, when their intentions are revealed. I had similar feelings about lack of character development in The Firm.. maybe I'll take a break from Grisham for a while.


Kathryn Lucas The book he wrote before The Firm launched him to mega-fame was A Time To Kill. That's more character-driven than a lot of his other books. It definitely has a little bit of the awkwardness of a first novel (especially in the pacing), but it tells a simple story with heart.

Also quite good was The Chamber, which follows a newly-minted attorney as he navigates through the bureaucratic morass that is the death penalty appeal process, trying to save his grandfather on death row (and also trying to get to know him, since they've never met before the events of the book). The Chamber is by far the best Grisham I've read in terms of character development and affecting how you might think about a controversial subject.


Adithian Totally agreeing with you.. The novel ideas of Nicholas Easter at each juncture was somehow hard to digest. I couldn't understand how he could offer a deal with such confidence to influence the jury and how a cunning Fitch(as he's portrayed) could get excited by this offer without any second thoughts. This novel doesn't stand up to Grisham's usual standards.. A similar far-fetched plot was employed by Grisham in 'The Brethren' were the protagonist, a common man leading a common life, suddenly becomes the centre of attraction in the presidential elections of America and manages to win by a huge turn-out of votes.


Kathryn Lucas Thanks for the warning! I will avoid The Brethren. That plot definitely sounds like a bridge too far for me.


Duke Fitch, so experienced and cunning was easily duped? Lol... I love Grisham but felt this book was quite flat.


James Welu Thanks for answering my question about how realistic this plot was. Love JG books but after 60 pages I said to myself "there's no way"


robert a boardman Don't know how you could not like this book. I thought it was hilarious.


Ubaid Kirmani You just need patience. The end just blows you off!!!!!


Andrée Ubaid - do you mean blows you away? as blows you off is something else entirely..... but agree with Kathryn - though even 50p is too much to pay for this dreck. And sorry Jerica choosing jurors cannot ever be described as 'fast paced' (less)


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