The Runaway Jury

By: John Grisham

Rating: 88%

Brief Summary: The verdict is out on a tobacco case, and the decision lies in the hand of one man.

Let's sum up the ups and downs of this book really quick: The Runaway Jury starts out as a great book, slows down, but ends strong.

It began with the jury selection of a Tobacco case. Here you meet the mysterious Nicholas Easter. He eventually is picked as one of the twelve jury members. At first, the trial is not the focus of the story. It centers on this "motley" group of a jury. (Grisham actually did develop some of these jury members very well). Slowly, as the story unfolds, you will begin to see Easter manipulating the entire jury panel - as if they become his personal tools. You will also meet his female partner working on the outside: Marlee. She is as mysterious as Nicholas - if not more so. At the same time, you are introduced to Rankin Fitch. Chief of Security for the four top grossing tobacco companies. He too is a very manipulative character. Through bribery - and other foul means, he has managed to escape with victories in each trial he has handled and has walked away with the cigarette companies off of the hook each time. However, he finally meets his match: Nicholas and Marlee.

What contributes to this books suspense is the mystery of the two hero's. I won't reveal their secrets, but Easter has slyly planted himself on this jury he has waited a lifetime for this moment.

Well, the story starts out strong... then you reach the middle. All of the sudden, Grisham starts to focus on the trial while just blowing the reader away with facts about the dangers of smoking. Yes, everything he says makes sense - and I am against smoking as well: please get back to the story! It is a plot that starts out very entertaining, just wanted it to continue to develop. And this is not because the trial is uninteresting, but the reader becomes curious as to what is going on outside of it. This is really the only noticable fault of this novel. All in all, it is not that bad of a problem to have.

The ending will not be spoiled here, but there are too many plot twists to count. Don't presume to think you have predicted the ending... until the book is over. Throughout the reading, you will be wondering, "Who is this Nicolas Easter?" And you don't find out about him or his companion Marlee until the very end. Once you find out their real names, prepare to be disappointed, because those aren't their names either. Or the ones before. Etc.. Unfortunately, the ending is very fictional. But really, who cares? It's Grisham, and you come to expect this.

For once, John Grisham's lead character is not a lawyer. Although, Easter does have the same basic persona of his other lead characters. The traits of being a fast-talking cynic.

So to repeat: Great characters. Fair amount of suspense. Slow middle due to redundant facts. A strong, but fictional ending.

The Runaway Jury is realistic when it comes to how the tobacco companies manipulate the system and the users, or at least, to how I imagine. It is amazing that some people smoke, even after reading this book. But whether you are for or against the message, it is a story worth reading.

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