An Epic Legal Thriller: The Judge’s List

John Grisham has done it again. Grisham has hit another home run with his 2021 book, The Judge’s List, The Whistler’s sequel, an epic legal thriller.

An Introduction to This Epic Legal Thriller

Already among the most well-known American authors of intensely compelling stories full of excitement and satisfying conclusions, Grisham gives us The Judge’s List. This epic legal thriller is certainly worth a read for fans of his work – and a good entry point for anyone interested in giving him a try.

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t put down? Then there’s a very good chance that you’ve read one of John Grisham’s mysteries or legal thrillers. Those who are familiar with Grisham’s outstanding prose and highly original story content already knew what they were getting into with The Judge’s List.

If you enjoyed The Whistler, you’re going to love this sequel, John Grisham’s latest entry to his already impressive collection of epic legal thrillers and suspense novels.

This epic legal thriller asks, "Could a siting judge be a serial killer"?

The Narration

As is the case in the preceding entry in this series, this story is told in the third person point of view, meaning Grisham serves as our narrator throughout the book. Lacy Stoltz is still the main character, but you’ll still get Grisham’s distinct voice to carry you through each page.

Who's Next on the Judge's List, an epic legal thriller.

The Book’s Setting

The Judge’s List takes place in Florida, where Lacy is in a rut at her Florida Board on Judicial Conduct job – until she meets a woman, whose father was murdered, and she suspects a judge within Lacy’s jurisdiction.

John Grisham's The Judge's List

The Theme of This Epic Legal Thriller

Arguably, one might say that the theme of this book is the importance of pursuing justice no matter the dangers or the likelihood that you’ll succeed. Throughout this book, Lacy Stoltz deals with one difficult situation after another, and the prospects of nailing down the crooked judge become dimmer and dimmer.

What makes these murders so complex is that the killer commits the crimes in different states and municipalities years apart, and leaves no forensic evidence other than his signature MO. Still, she perseveres and fights for the truth to come out in any way she can.

The Book’s Genre

The Judge’s List is another in a long line of Grisham’s epic legal thrillers and suspenseful thrillers. John Grisham is known for and clearly highly proficient at creating courtroom and legal thrillers. You’ll get all the chills and addictive storylines that you can expect from other entries in this genre.

About the Author

This is yet another novel by the tireless John Grisham. Compared to one of his literary hits like The Firm, this new book absolutely holds up. It also serves as a compelling continuation of the chain of events started in The Whistler.

The Plot

Our protagonist, Lacy Stoltz, meets Jeri Crosby, whose father had been killed two decades before. That murder case and several others with the same modus operandi (MO) are still unsolved after nearly 20 years in the case of Crosby’s father. There is one person whom Jeri suspects, a sitting judge who she’s been stalking obsessively since her father’s death.

With no shortage of other victims to be found along the way in her 20 years of pursuit, the stakes could not be higher. And yet, the trail couldn’t seem colder as everyone is seemingly a suspect and suspicions run wild, but it’s nearly impossible to find a single scrap of proof that could identify and condemn her father’s murder in this epic legal thriller.

Is Lacy Stoltz up for the case?

My Opinion about This Epic Legal Thriller & Read Recommendation

As usual, John Grisham delivers famously on his captivating story mechanism and ingenious plot architecture. In his work, you see a clear snapshot of real people engaging with real situations. He’s clearly still up for new challenges in his writing – definitely an author to continue to keep your eye on.

#1 New York Times Best Seller — Currently (16 December ’21) #4.

“Investigator Lacy Stoltz follows the trail of a serial killer and closes in on a shocking suspect—a sitting judge—in ‘one of the best crime reads of the year.… Bristling with high-tech detail and shivering with suspense…. Worth staying up all night to finish.’ ” — The Wall Street Journal.

With 22,015 ratings by verified Amazon buyers, this epic legal thriller was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. Eighty-eight percent rated it four or five stars.

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Be sure to read my review of Sycamore Row the second and read my review of A Time for Mercy the third Jake Brigance courtroom drama novel based in Clanton in Ford County, MS.

The Hunger Games: Book One Review

The Hunger Games: A Book Review

The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, is a fiction in the Youth Adult (YA) Fantasy genre.

Let me be clear, I am not a young adult. In fact, I am a more than a few years past middle-aged. I was immediately completely engrossed in this novel and devoured it feverishly until it was complete. The Hunger Games is so addictive because it draws the reader into a dramatic plot while introducing compelling characters.

The Plot 

The novel is narrated by the main character, a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen. When the book opens, it is seemingly the future, after a great war. What remains is divided into twelve districts, collectively known as Panem that are governed by The Capital. Katniss, from District 12, volunteers to take her sister, Prim’s, place in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a gladiator-like fight to the death among “tributes” two from each of the twelve districts. The tributes must be less than eighteen. The games are televised and presented as entertainment while being controlled by The Capital.
To survive, Katniss must win the games. By rule, only one tribute will be left at the end of the games. Complicating the dire odds are friendships and alliances formed along the way. Katniss brings to the games excellent hunting skills and an instinct for survival. She hunted and scrounged for food to keep her family going through very lean times. Her father was killed in a mining accident when she was young.
Especially relevant is that as the novel progresses it is very clear that there is a gross disparity in the wealth of the citizenry in the capital and those in the districts. Each of the districts is kept separate from the others. And, contributes some sort of agricultural or mineral products to the capital. The Capital controls every aspect of the districts to maintain a vise-like grip on the people.

The Other Characters

Other characters of note are Gale, Katniss’ best friend from District 12. He is her friend, hunting partner, and though not yet fully evident, her love interest. He represents much of what her home district means to her.
Peeta is the other tribute from District 12. He is an adversary with whom Katniss forms an alliance and a seemingly romantic relationship as well.
Haymitch Abernathy is the only Hunger Games victor who is still alive from District 12. He is Katniss and Peeta’s mentor in the games.
In addition, other notables are Panem President Snow, Effie Trinket, the District 12 escort for the tributes, and Katniss’s sister Primrose (Prim).


Consequently, the Hunger Games will appeal to teens 13 and older and just about anyone who enjoys fantasy. The novel contains some strong emotional themes and violence so I don’t recommend it for those younger than 13.
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media, gives it five stars, saying,

For her first young-adult novel, Collins has mixed together elements both classical and modern to produce a story that, if not entirely new, nevertheless bears her unique imprint.

In spite of all that I loved about this book, I did find one of the central tensions, the love triangle, very lame. The love triangle was very tired to me and while it drove the plot forward and added to the suspense, I didn’t find it very believable.

The Hunger Games: From Print to Big Screen

For me, this book was as huge a hit as it was for the general YA populace that made it and the movie such a huge success and I recommend it heartily. The novel explores many important themes such as poverty, the role of government, teenage angst, the search for identity, and the heroes journey. The action in the book drives the plot forward quickly and the writing is witty and straightforward.
Watch the 2012 movie trailer:

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The Trilogy

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The 4-Film Package

Sycamore Row Book Review

Sycamore Row

John Grisham

25 real-world years after John Grisham’s first novel. Grisham takes us back to Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi. Three book years after Jake Brigance successfully defended a black man accused of murdering the three white men that raped and killed his daughter in A Time to Kill, Grisham re-introduces us to Jake, Judge Attlee, and the racial tensions that abound in this small southern town.

The Tribulations of Sycamore Row

Sycamore Row gets its name from a stand of sycamore trees, one of which was used by Seth Hubbard, a millionaire suffering from late stage lung cancer, hanging himself from a sycamore tree. The day prior, he made a new will. A hand-written will leaving the majority of his estate to his maid, Lettie Lang, who nursed him through his final days on earth. He also left 5 percent to his church and 5 percent to his brother whom he hadn’t seen in years and wasn’t sure was still alive. This hand-written will would over-ride the will he had drawn up by a law firm two years earlier. What makes this story interesting is that the new will was legal in Mississippi. Probate law requires he had the mental capacity to write it and there was no undue tampering from anyone named in the will. Seth hated lawyers and had a healthy distrust for all but Jake Brigance, whom he wrote to requesting that he protect his new will at all costs.

Since, Seth Hubbard was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 million dollars, everybody wanted a piece of his estate. In the first will, Seth’s children, Herschel and Ramona were named as the primary recipients of his estate. Herschel and Ramona were deadbeats according to their father that rarely came to see him, unless they needed something. So, they of course hired lawyers to protect their interest. Their primary purpose was to raise a bit of doubt in the jury’s mind. Both, to the mental capacity of Hubbard and the relationship between he and Lettie.

Lettie, whose husband cared more for drinking than he did working, had a son in prison, and a daughter recently returned from the military. Lettie’s supposed friends and relatives came out of the woodwork to help her stake her claim to the money, hoping she would reward them monetarily after she received her reward.

And, the Trial

Grisham takes us through the boring and mundane process of establishing the estates worth, jury selection, and trial procedures. After all, not everything about a trial is filled with action and adventure. But, the events outside the courtroom, such as Lettie’s husband arrest for driving under the influence and vehicular homicide, Lucien’s search for Seth’s brother, a merchant marine with drug and alcohol abuse problems, the search for Lettie’s real parents, since she is an orphan, and the racially charged events in the town where the trial takes place are what really keeps the story moving.

Grisham is a master story teller that knows his way around a courtroom. He has proven that time and time again in his other books, but in Sycamore Row as in A Time to Kill he showed us his ability to pull us into the small town of Clanton that is the Deep South and hold us spellbound until the final verdict.

Sycamore Row Book Review



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