John Grisham’s 2004 novel The Last Juror, was a novel I recently purchases and read within the gap of 2 weeks. Yeah, I know, it’s a long time but you must understand that I read so little these days and that’s why it has taken me so long to finish this book.
The book is set in the 70s, right from 1970 till 79. The first part of the novel is about how young Willie Traynor comes to Clanton, Mississippi and starts work on a local paper and how on borrowing money from is rich grandmother he buys the paper once it goes into bankruptcy. As he starts to establish himself as the new owner/editor of the paper, a brutal rape/murder occurs in the town committed by Danny Padgitt. Danny belongs to the powerful Padgitt family, who live on their own island and are into all kinds of illegal trade. Willie focuses on the rape case and the trial and his readership grows. Danny is sentenced to life imprisonment but he threatens all 12 jurors before being led away. Among the jurors is Miss Callie Ruffin, a middle aged black woman who befriends Willie.
While Danny is in jail for those nine years, Willie settles in and adjusts to life in Clanton. He buys a big house and gets it renovated and becomes a part of the community. He spends every Thursday afternoon at the Ruffin house, where Miss Callie invites him for great tasty lunches. After 9 years Danny is paroled and the jurors start dying one by one, murdered by Danny’s henchmen. Convinced that Danny is exacting his revenge, as promised, the judge of Clanton issues an arrest for Danny Padgitt. At Padgitt’s trial, the former lover of Rhoda Kassellaw, Hank Hooten, guns down Danny Padgitt in the courtroom by positioning himself on the balcony. Willie later discovers that the assassin is also a schizophrenic and would often hear the voices of the victim’s children in his head, convincing him to murder Danny and the three jurors who voted against his conviction to Death Row. After nine years of ownership, Willie sells The Ford County Times for 1.5 million dollars. Soon after, Callie Ruffin dies of a heart attack, and the book ends with Willie writing her obituary.