John Grisham (1955- ) was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the son of a construction worker. At the age of twelve, his family moved to Southaven, Mississippi. He graduated with a B.S. from Mississippi State University in 1979. He passed the Mississippi Bar exam in 1981, and received his J.D. from the University of Mississippi. In 1981, he married Renee Jones, with whom he had two children.
Grisham began a successful law practice in 1981, starting in criminal law, and moving to more lucrative civil law. In 1984, he was elected to the Mississippi State House of Representatives, a position he held in addition to running his law practice. A case he witnessed while in the state legislature led him to write his first novel, A Time to Kill (1989). He had trouble finding an agent and publisher. He eventually found both, and a limited run of 5,000 copies was printed of his first novel. In 1990, Grisham resigned from his position on state legislature and retired his practice. In 1991, Doubleday published his second novel, The Firm. It was a massive commercial success, as were his third and fourth novels, The Pelican Brief (1992) and The Client (1993). His fourth book, The Chamber (1994) is the first of eleven novels to become the number one annual bestselling novel in the U.S.
Since 1989, Grisham has published a total of 29 novels, five children's books, and a work of non-fiction. His family splits its time between homes in Oxford, Mississippi, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Grisham also serves as a board member on the Innocence Project.
Length: 385 pages
Subject/Genre: Lawyers/Legal 'thriller'
This is it. The last goddamned one. Let's get this over with. The Litigators is about a group of litigators (what a shocker). You start with two low rent ambulance chasers (cf. The Rainmaker) and a successful up-and-comer at a big firm who quits after finding his job meaningless (cf. The Street Lawyer). They get themselves involved in a big ol' class action lawsuit (cf. The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Appeal). There's some wackiness (cf. The Brethren) and a bunch of misfits being misfits while trying to make a living practicing law (cf. The Brethren, The Rainmaker). There's a case, there are twists in the case, people keep secrets, some people lose a lot of money, some people make a lot of money (cf. every damned Grisham novel after The Chamber).
This isn't Grisham's worst novel, but it's nothing more than a mixture of his decent novels. The problem now is that I have pretty much nothing to say about it that isn't itself a repeat of an earlier Grisham review. I could see it being entertaining if someone hadn't read ten more of these freakin' things in the last several months, but I don't have that luxury. It is thoroughly, relentlessly, and all and all average. It is neither remarkably good, nor remarkably bad. It is exactly what I would expect when someone says 'Grisham novel,' nothing more, nothing less. Maybe the reason this guy sells so well is that by the time the next book comes out, his readers have forgotten his last one. (I know I'm being rather harsh, both on Grisham and his readers. This is just me venting frustration. Eleven of them, for crying out loud!)
Look, it was okay. I might have even enjoyed it a bit if it didn't feel like I'd read it ten times already. It's the type of book that a Grisham fan would like, in that it's perfectly standard fare for Grisham. If that sounds like something you'd like, then go ahead and read it. Or read any other Grisham novel for the exact same result. I don't care. I'm just glad to be done.
Bestsellers of 2011:
1. The Litigators by John Grisham
2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
3. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
4. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
5. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
6. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
7. Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
8. Micro by Michael Crichton
9. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
10. Locked On by Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
Also Published in 2011:
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Pym by Mat Johnson
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace