Friday, February 11, 2011

Read Alike: John Grisham

John Grisham

John Grisham is a top selling author of fast-paced stories of legal intrigue. His characters are most often underdog lawyers fighting injustice and winning. Grisham's novels are filled with details of the legal system but the action more frequently involves the investigation rather than the courtroom drama. The stories are suspenseful and plot driven with a sense of danger. Grisham’s stories have almost no sex and violence which makes them a “safe” suggestion for young adult readers. Readers can start with almost any of Grisham’s books to get a feel for his style. The Firm was his first popular success and is good place to start. Young lawyer Mitch Deere finds himself employed by a firm which no one ever leaves, or at least not alive. When he discovers its connections to the Mafia, he takes matters into his own hands. The novel blends elements of adventure, intrigue, and suspense, with a convoluted plot featuring the good-guy lawyer fighting corruption.

Other legal thrillers make good suggestions for Grisham's fans, but not every legal thriller will have the same pacing or character profiles. The following suggestions may tide you over until the next Grisham novel is released and perhaps you will find a new favorite author.

  • Scott Turow's stories do not move at the same rapid pace as Grisham's, and readers who like both either enjoy Legal Thrillers across the board or appreciate each author's strengths. In Reversible Errors corporate lawyer Arthur Raven defends the reopened case of a death-row inmate who may be innocent, while prosecuting attorneys Muriel Wynn and Larry Starczek fight for a conviction they still believe is deserved.
  • Richard North Patterson writes at a more leisurely pace than Grisham’s page-turning style. In Conviction fifteen years after Rennell Price is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to die for the murder of a nine-year-old girl, lawyer Teresa Peralta Paget becomes convinced that Price did not receive a fair trial and fights to stop his execution.
  • Steve Martini writes page-turning Legal Thrillers that feature lawyers as underdogs, fighting for justice. Like Grisham's books, Martini writes sympathetic protagonists, especially series character Paul Madriani and his colleagues, and investigation plays an important role, with actual courtroom drama often taking second place. In Compelling Evidence a short-lived affair with his boss' wife, Talia, costs defense attorney Paul Madriani his wife and his job, but he gets a second chance when Talia, accused of her husband's murder, asks Paul to defend her.
  • Lisa Scottoline offers legal focus, sympathetic characters, fast pacing, and a plot full of unexpected twists. There's more humor and sarcasm in Scottoline's stories, especially in smart-mouthed heroine/attorney Bennie Rosato, but they offer a similarly suspenseful story. In Legal Tender Bennie Rosato loses her boyfriend and business partner Mark Biscardi to a young law associate and then finds he wants to dissolve their partnership. When Mark is killed, Bennie is the only suspect, especially since his will leaves her the practice and millions of dollars. Represented by associate Grady Wells, a lawyer she doesn't quite trust, Bennie goes on the run to solve Mark's murder.

Additional Suggestions for legal thrillers:

  • Angel of Death by Jay Brandon Finally putting Malachi Reese, a revered leader of San Antonio's African-American community, on Death Row, District Attorney Chris Sinclair becomes the target of Reese's threats from behind bars as he struggles to cope with a series of seemingly unrelated crimes.
  • Dead Irish by John Lescroart Dismas Hardy, a lawyer and ex-San Francisco cop currently working as a barkeeper, takes on the investigation of the apparent suicide of his friend Eddie Cochran. Family and friends are convinced Eddie was murdered.
  • Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein Actress Isabella Lascar is brutally murdered while on her way to Assistant D.A. Alexandra Cooper's beach house. Who was the target-Isabella or Alex? Alex, bodyguard in tow, cooperates with the local police and the F.B.I. while trying to keep the publicity away from her high profile job as Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly Representing some unsavory characters in his work as a defense lawyer, Mickey Haller takes on his first high-paying and possibly innocent client in years but finds the case complicated by events that suggest a particularly evil perpetrator.
  • No Lesser Plea by Robert Tanenbaum Prosecuting a murder case, Roger "Butch" Karp, an assistant D.A., is determined to insure that the killer, Mandeville Louis, does not escape justice. Karp is aided by fellow prosecutor, the pretty and tough Marlene Ciampi.
  • Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt With the help of his lover, P.I. Laurie Collins, defense attorney Andy Carpenter discovers a startling link between his father's death, a death row inmate, and the three most powerful men in New Jersey, exposing a deadly political conspiracy.
  • Primary Justice by William Bernhardt Ben Kincaid, a disillusioned young lawyer dedicated to balancing the scales of justice, sacrifices his job at the D.A.'s office for a hot-shot position at a big corporate law firm, where he learns that attorneys' greed can often outweigh their morality.

Many of Grisham's novels have been made into movies. Carnegie-Stout has the following titles in the catalog: The Firm, A Time To Kill, The Runaway Jury and Christmas with the Kranks (based on Grisham's novel Skipping Christmas).

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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