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The Runaway Jury
By John Grisham

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The Runaway Jury

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The Runaway Jury
By John Grisham
Random House Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-375-43344-9
Genre: Fiction - Legal Thriller

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - November 12, 2003

As expected, John Grisham's new legal thriller The Runaway Jury was an immediate hit. Now, at last, it is available in large print. Twentieth Century Fox also recently released a movie version of the book. This story revolves around a lawsuit leveled against a monstrous tobacco company and the various intrigues that permeate the ensuing trial.

As the lawsuit against the giant tobacco company proceeds, twelve supposedly impartial men and women are seated on the jury. However, this is not your ordinary jury. Juror number 2, Nicholas Easter, is a plant. With the aid of Marlee, a woman working with him, he's determined to do whatever it takes to get the jury to vote for the outcome that he wants.

While not exactly an edge-of-your-seat thriller, The Runaway Jury is still an exciting story. Grisham's description of the machinations that go along with the mega-trial are fascinating. One of the most intriguing aspects of this book is his portrayal of how each side strives to handpick the jury's members, and why the legal system seems to encourage this practice. However, the participants in this liability trail go further than simply trying to pick a jury that will be sympathetic to its case, even after the trail starts they continue to tamper with the jury in an effort to ensure that their side will win - no matter what.

The Runaway Jury is a story without a hero. The characters are aligned into to camps, one on the side of the tobacco company, the other on the side of the widow whose husband died of lung cancer and who is now suing the tobacco giant. The lawyers and consultants on both sides of the conflict are equally manipulative, deceitful, and unsavory, and as events turn out, so are some members of the jury! Greed is a common motivator on all sides.

While technically a thriller, I found this book to be more akin to an old-fashioned courtroom drama spiced up with a couple of unique plot twists. The Runaway Jury is a fast paced story that will hold your interest from beginning to end, even if you never manage to empathize with any of the characters. In all, a diverting book that provides an intriguing glimpse into the legal shenanigans and machinations surrounding this high-stakes trial that, on its surface, pits a big tobacco company against a grieving widow.


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