The Runaway Jury: A Novel

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 1996



Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML: #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER â?˘ Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to them. They are at the center of a multimillion-dollar legal hurricane: twelve men and women who have been investigated, watched, manipulated, and harassed by high-priced lawyers and consultants who will stop at nothing to secure a verdict. Now the jury must make a decision in the most explosive civil trial of the century, a precedent-setting lawsuit against a giant tobacco company. But only a handful of people know the truth: that this jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him. He is known only as Juror #2. But he has a name, a past, and he has planned his every move with the help of a beautiful woman on the outside. Now, while a corporate empire hangs in the balance, while a grieving family waits, and while lawyers are plunged into a battle for their careers, the truth about Juror #2 is about to explode in a cross fire of greed and corruptionâ??and with justice fighting for its life… (more)

Library's rating


½ (2055 ratings; 3.7)


Media reviews

From Publishers Weekly Grisham is either remarkably prescient or just plain lucky; because with public concerns about the tobacco companies heating up, and two major nonfiction books currently garnering a lot of attention, he has come up with a tobacco-suit novel that lights up the courtroom.

User reviews

LibraryThing member meyben
A civil lawsuit against the tobaccoindustry put 12 juriors, a consultant and an outside influence to change the course of law. You could have a better understanding of how courts work.
LibraryThing member payday1999
This was a good book and I did enjoy the ending. But I liked a few other Grisham books better than this.
LibraryThing member SamuelW
Readers, leave your morals at the door. There is something oddly satisfying about carefully-planned crime – the cleverer, the better. So, in the vein of Ocean's Eleven and Artemis Fowl, Grisham gives us The Runaway Jury – an absorbing, quick-paced tale of justice gone awry. The novel's premise
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of jury-rigging is utterly engrossing, and will grab readers' attention from the moment they figure out what's going on. Once Grisham has that attention, he holds it with ease. Nearly everything about his writing is short and sharp, from the punchy sentences to the many brief chapters. The pages practically turn themselves. If you're into losing track of the time, then this is the book for you.

There is always some level of suspense in The Runaway Jury. Grisham has a compelling knack for throwing readers into the middle of a puzzle and then feeding them the pieces, one by one – a knack which is established right from the very first page. He meticulously manages how much readers know, and how much they should be able to figure out at any given stage of the plot. The overall outcome is disappointingly predictable, but there are plenty of smaller twists and turns to keep readers guessing away in vain. Even more difficult is the task of pointing out right from wrong – Grisham's characters are all so deliciously crooked that readers won't know who to cheer for!

Much of The Runaway Jury takes place in a courtroom, so Grisham's experience as an attorney lends itself well to the narration. Having taken Legal Studies at school, I enjoyed the extra layer of realism, and found that it added a professional edge to the novel. Those with less interest in the law, however, may find the legal jargon confusing at times, and might need a few chapters to settle into the jury box.

With its intriguing ideas and energetic storyline, The Runaway Jury is a highly readable example of just how much fun the crime genre can be. Recommended especially for those with an interest in the justice system.
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LibraryThing member Anagarika-Sean
I really liked the concept. Good job, Mr. Grisham.
LibraryThing member kaionvin
I found myself surprisingly enjoying the movie (with Gene Hackman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, and Dustin Hoffman), so I took a second chance on Grisham after the disappointing first go at The Firm.

Decision: Not bad. But the movie is better due to some good paring-down and elevating finesse touches
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on the basic concept.

As always, Grisham's got a message. This time the target is tobacco. Two teams of lawyers are ready to go at in a civil case a widow of a cancer victim has brought against the tobacco company. Both sides are willing to go to great means to win over the jury. But these plans are thrown off-kilter when they are offered a chance to buy the verdict outright by one unassuming jury member.

Grisham's experience definitely adds some really nice detail to how calculating 'the law' can really be, even before the illegal shenanigans begin. I certainly won't soon see a mustard-stained tie without the air of manipulation again. Working against the tension, though, is simply that the focus it spread a little thin. Between the plaintiff's lawyers and the defense lawyers, the judge, the shadow men behind the defense, the jury, and the conspiracy... it's all a bit busy. When it all comes down to the final moment, the jury has the say. With all the extra brouhaha, I felt a little detached from any momentum of what each individual jury members were thinking, robbing the story of truly sweet 12 Angry Men moments.
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LibraryThing member zhoud2005
One of Grisham's finest. I think early Grisham works are better than his recent ones.
LibraryThing member keylawk
The back story is the trial between a cigarette smoker's family and a large cigarette manufacturer-- the battle between the two teams.

Grisham tells the story with a third person POV that puts you right into the action as a God. RUNAWAY JURY is about how a young couple with an agenda were able to
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manipulate a jury from the inside, and also by manipulating the attorney's conducting the litigation. The writing is always clear and interesting, and not bogged down with inane or complicated conversations -- even though a lot "technical" information about cigarette advertising and the development of addiction strategies is imparted.

The "characters" of the putative protagonists of the story are a bit thin. The litigators -- bless 'em -- and even the other members of the jury, are filled in much more completely.
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LibraryThing member kaebs
Pretty good but you have to like reading about court cases. Good characters and great twists. I quite enjoyed this.
LibraryThing member RussBingaman
The Runaway Jury grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it to the very end. Full of twists and unexpected events. For awhile I was worried that the two capers wouldn't be able to pull off their manipulations of the jury, but in the end they prevailed. Great book, I highly recommend it.
LibraryThing member bennyb
I lost interest in this novel pretty early into the story. Lacked excitement.
LibraryThing member ForeignCircus
[book: The Runaway Jury] is one of those old favorites that I do actually reread periodically. I find it hard to review a book like this because I do know the plot and the characters so well that it is impossible to recapture the sense of suspense and mystery that I know I experienced the first
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time I read it. Nevertheless, the fact that I still enjoy reading this book even without the mystery is a testament to the quality of this Grisham novel. I like the plot and the characters, and still appreciate the dry humor that permeates the novel.

Tracking the course of a civil trial against Big Tobacco, and detailing the lengths both sides will go to to secure a victory, [book: The Runaway Jury] is one of Grisham's fast-paced legal dramas. This book is probably the last Grisham book that I bought and enjoyed, and I've read it more than any of the others (except [book: A Time to Kill]). After scheming for years to make it onto the jury of a tobacco trail, Nicholas and his partner Marlee finally succeed in placing themselves squarely in the middle of a pitched battle about tobacco and product liability. As Nicholas works to gain control of the jury, Marlee works on both plaintiff and defendent, offering victory to both sides (for a high price). The twist at the end is enjoyable, and despite the fact that Nicholas and Marlee are working to undermine our entire legal system, you can't help but like them and support them in their efforts.

I picked up [book: The Runaway Jury] a few days ago when reshelving books, and decided to give it another whirl. It is an enjoyable light read that helps to cleanse the palette after more serious or depressing fare. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend The Runaway Jury.
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LibraryThing member BraveKelso
Cleverly plotted, attractive characters, a Manichean view of justice in America. These are the elements of Grisham's writing that demonstrate his astute reading of the needs of the literary consumer.
LibraryThing member ReneeRobinson
Runaway Grisham never stops and never disappoints. I do not know how he manages to continue coming up with such exciting and creative reads. He has an enormous imagination with even more talent. Always gripping and thrilling. This is another keeper and highly recommended.
LibraryThing member shawnd
I like this book a lot. Definitely it's in the John Grisham mode: loner with knowledge of the law and lawyers working against an evil or semi-evil law firm, where there's some illegal cat and mouse chasing and violence from henchmen of the evil law firm against the protagonist. And the protagonist
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works out a unique, brilliant way to legally defeat the bad guys and render them powerless. Perhaps not as sensational as The Firm or as touching as Pelican Brief, this one had it's own unique flavor. Definitely fewer lawyers, and also more - perhaps too much? - time spent on analyzing people and their flaws and manipulation of other people on a jury and how people work in teams/group dynamics. Overall a great read if you like thoughtful thrillers.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
My first Grisham - perhaps also my last. He's not the worst writer I've come across, but there are so many others that are better that I doubt I'll find the time to return to him in the future. I dislike a lot of things about his writing style, and too many to go into detail here, but the biggest
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problem I have is that I feel that I've only read his book as a diversion, a way to escape the outside world for a few hours; I haven't learnt anything that I didn't really know already, even about courtroom procedures.
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LibraryThing member markymark
I read this while away in our caravan, we were staying at a farm near Abington in Oxfordshire. I thought this was a weaker Grisham though it did hold my attention.
LibraryThing member Bookalicious
Just a rip roaring good read. Makes me glad I never touched a ciggy in my life. Grisham's skill in taking an otherwise dull trial where experts espouse detailed and barely understandable terminology and turning it into something fast paced and exciting is truly remarkable.

I have to admit that of
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late I have been rather dissapointed by Grisham's work, particularly his novel the Summons for its incessent repetition of points already communicated ad infinitum, but this novel is certainly among his best.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
I enjoyed the concept of this novel. The main event is a trial between a shady group of lawyers trying to take down big Tobacco with a lawsuit, and the even shadier lawyers representing the tobacco companies. Nicholas Easter is on the jury and he informs the tobacco group that he could send a
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verdict their way for a price. Working through his girlfriend, he shows signs that he could hand them a verdict, and manipulates much of the trial.

The concept was good, but this novel more than stretches the realm of believability in many ways. It's just not reasonable to believe that Easter could have done the things that he did. I did enjoy some of the details of the novel, such as the intense selection process and amount of time and money spent analyzing the potential jury members. I have never been a big fan of John Grisham as a writer, and his prose in this novel does nothing to change my mind about it. The best I can say about Grisham is that he sometimes has entertaining plots. I also thought the swerve at the end was good even though I knew it was coming after having watched the movie. This is a mixed bag, but better than most Grisham novels I have read.

Carl Alves - author of Blood Street
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LibraryThing member PaulaGalvan
Moral issues related to big tobacco companies are a hot topic in this novel and real life. The arguments—on both sides—made in this fictitious courtroom battle are thought-provoking, especially if you are a smoker. But then, The Runaway Jury is just a novel. Right? It's a crazy story of
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big-money purchasing votes, biased jurors, and corrupt lawyers. I found the story riveting and well-written, the characters fascinating, and the plot twists entertaining and suspenseful.
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LibraryThing member ecw0647
Runway Jury, is the more traditional Grisham, but a nifty suspense-filled story. I really enjoyed it. Lawyers will hate it, as it portrays them as terrible blood-sucking-win-at-any-cost malevolent characters. Fortunately, in this novel they get their due.
In this novel Grisham dissects the tobacco
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industry. Given the absolutely stunning amount of money involved in the recent class action suits against the tobacco companies, Grisham starts with the assumption, a quite reasonable one, that the industry lawyers will stop at nothing to prevent a decision going against them and they set aside a huge slush fund to pay for all sorts of dirty tricks.
Someone else decides to manipulate the jury results to their own profit (there’s a not unpredictable link to the anit-smokers involved, but what they do with the money is really nifty even if I didn’t quite understand how they did it). Soon the corporate lawyers are being sucked into a scheme they can’t control but think they might be able to manipulate. In the meantime they are sublty, and not so secretly, attempting to influence the jurors to their way of thinking.
Grisham knows how to write courtroom drama and this book has some of his best.
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LibraryThing member AliceAnna
This started out pretty entertaining, but it just fizzled out. Grisham has a tendency to end his books with a whimper instead of a bang. The ending had been telegraphed so no surprises and no "umph." Typical Grisham.
LibraryThing member delta61
A legal thriller novel written by John Grisham. It tells the story of a high-stakes trial involving a major tobacco company and the manipulation of a jury to influence the verdict in a product liability lawsuit.

The plot centers around a lawsuit filed by the widow of a man who died from lung cancer
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after smoking cigarettes manufactured by a fictional tobacco company called Pynex.

A secretive and influential consultant named Rankin Fitch is hired by the tobacco company to manipulate the jury selection in their favor.

However, things take an unexpected turn when a mysterious and unpredictable juror named Nicholas Easter makes it onto the jury. It turns out that Easter and his girlfriend, Marlee, have their own hidden agenda. They are playing both sides, secretly manipulating the outcome of the trial to their advantage.

"The Runaway Jury" explores themes of jury manipulation, the power of big corporations, and the ethics of the legal system.

It's hard to imagine a judge allowing any juror to take over his personal domain.
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LibraryThing member buffalogr
Good courtroom drama with the tobacco industry as defendant. Subplots abound--one wonders how they contribute? Skipped large portions of the book to see what happens at the end. It's always good to read Grisham. Ending was predictable.
LibraryThing member DelightedLibrarian
interesting way to solve a problem
LibraryThing member beckyhaase
RUNAWAY JURY by John Grisham
Not his best!
I usually really like Grisham’s work. This one was boring (too much detail) for the first half. The second half, when the plot began to be revealed, was better but still not up to his usual interesting plot and characters. You never really get to know
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Marlee or Nickolas so you don’t care about them. You do get to know some of the other jury members, but not enough to care. You know Rankin, but he is eminently unlikeable.
Maybe I just read this one after it was out of date. Maybe I was just not in the mood, but this was just not very interesting. Sorry, John.
2 stars out of 5
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Doubleday, First Edition

Original publication date





0-385-47294-3 / 9780385472944


Original language

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