Prominent Lawyer-turned-author John Grisham’s book The Last Juror combines the elements of law and journalism into an interesting story about a small town, a college dropout and twelve unsuspecting jurors.

In the year 1970, 23-year-old William Traynor, a former Syracuse University student,  has moved to a small town in Ford County, Mississippi upon his acquisition of the town’s aging newspaper, The Ford County Times. Although initially halfhearted about running the newspaper, he soon finds his business booming after a major homicide is committed and the public turns to his paper as a major source of details. When the defendant, Danny Padgitt, is convicted in the trial by twelve jurors, he threatens retaliation in open court. While people dismiss his threat as empty and meaningless, it’s only a number of years later that Padgitt’s words become real. What happens to the last juror? Read the book to find out.

Grisham’s previous experience as a lawyer and extensive knowledge of the law gives him an advantage in writing about law. The portrayal of the courtroom scenes felt realistic and believable. However, there were times I felt that Grisham focused so much on the law details, they overshadowed the plot a little bit. I found some sections unnecessary to the plot, feeling they were just filler material.

Being a journalism student, I was attracted to the book because of the journalism aspect. In 1970, with there being no Internet, people looked to newspapers as their major source of news. One of the only communication tools between the law and the public came from a printing press, took time to assemble and required more than a few people working on it. As opposed to nowadays, when many reporters can live Tweet from courtrooms, instantly delivering details to thousands of people. It appealed to me, reading how reporters collected their information and wrote their stories without the aid of technology.

Another aspect that stood out to me was the protagonist’s background. Even though Willie Traynor never properly finishes journalism school, he still becomes a successful journalist. I’m not suggesting that dropping out of the college is the right decision and will necessarily make somebody successful. Rather, I’m highlighting how instead of making the protagonist a proud graduate who is on top of the world, Grisham chose to portray somebody, despite not being the superior in their field, can still have the knowledge and capability to accel. Inspiring, in a way.

Overall, being an interesting portrayal of 1970s life and a way to learn aspects of journalism and the law, this was good read.

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