The Runaway Jury: A Novel

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 1996



Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him.In Biloxi, Mississippi, a landmark tobacco trial with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake beginsroutinely, then swerves mysteriously off course. The jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juroris convinced he's being watched. Soon they have to be sequestered. Then a tip from an anonymousyoung woman suggests she is able to predict the jurors' increasingly odd behavior.Is the jury somehow being manipulated, or even controlled? If so, by whom? And, more important,why?

Library's rating


½ (1980 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 Anagarika-Sean
I really liked the concept. Good job, Mr. Grisham.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Lindart
I know that many people liked this book, but I found it slow and boring. The premise was good, but the movie was better and more exciting. I almost didn't finish it, reading "Wicked" before tackling it again.
LibraryThing member zhoud2005
One of Grisham's finest. I think early Grisham works are better than his recent ones.
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 bennyb
I lost interest in this novel pretty early into the story. Lacked excitement.
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 kaebs
Pretty good but you have to like reading about court cases. Good characters and great twists. I quite enjoyed this.
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 HenriMoreaux
Having read 'The Broker' and been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story and writing I was eager to dive into another Grisham book. Once again, I was pleased.

Whilst the story does take a little bit to warm up once things are happening it's an excellent tale. Some may be bored of the
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courtroom & legal detail however in that case you probably wouldn't be looking at legal thrillers anyway.

I can certainly see why it was a bestseller.
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LibraryThing member jbarr5
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
Read one other book by this author and thought I'd try another as I enjoyed the process of the clues to solving the mysteries that arise.
Love how he captures your attention and holds it for the whole book as the plot moves along.
Interesting learning how the tobacco
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company didn't feel they were to blame for the people who died from smoking.. I know nothing of the jury process so that part was interesting to learn about.
Liked all the statistics and the ongoings of the people during the trial on the jury.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
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LibraryThing member BradKautz
The Runaway Jury is a tight and well-written novel by a master of his genre. Lawyers and legalese populate Grisham's stories and this book was no exception. I enjoyed this book, particularly the way the central character developed. It wasn't until I was one-third the way through that I began to
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understand that character's angle and even as his purpose became clear the final resolution was unknown until the last pages. This was a page turner that I found hard to put down, and it makes an excellent book to read while traveling.
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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 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 Tony2704
Gishams best so far. i was unable to put this down. I notice the film doesnt do it justice, What a surprise !!!!
LibraryThing member areadingmachine
Came out when Grisham was putting out a new one every month. Grisham by the numbers I call this one. Mildly interesting to be on the juror side of things and looks at juror selection and tampering. The book is about Big Tobacco (not arms like the movie is) and one juror being on the inside and
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messing with the system. At all times the juror is offering to sell out to which ever side will pay, all the while knowing it is just to get the money, use it to make more, and then give back again leaving them scott free. Blah
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LibraryThing member DelightedLibrarian
interesting way to solve a problem


Doubleday, First Edition

Original publication date





0-385-47294-3 / 9780385472944


Original language

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