What the hell happened to John Grisham?

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to read a book where a character gets wrongfully executed after a lengthy fight with the legal system, only to have it revealed the character was indeed wrongfully executed…all the while, the reader completely couldn’t care less emotionally about the character?

If not, you probably haven’t read The Confession by John Grisham. A book in which the author seemingly set out to answer just that question.

Look, there was a point in which I loved John Grisham. I’ve read everything of his outside of the kids books he is now writing, and some of the non-legal stuff. And, even then I did read A Painted House and Bleachers. Unfortunately. You don’t read that many of one authors works unless at some point there was something real there that I absolutely enjoyed. I can tell you that The Client was the first book I’ve read. I can also tell you the exact location I was when I read one of the Klan scenes in A Time to Kill.

So, there undoubtedly was a point where I considered Grisham really good at what he did. But, reading his work these days, it just feels like he is on auto-pilot. Is it completely silly for me to sit here and criticize that? Absolutely. I wish I had the ability to have an inherent grasp on how to pace a novel so well that he can continue to write a lot of predictable stuff, with fairly vapid characters and not have people call him on it.

But, at the same time, I’ve absolutely read The Associate, The Appeal, The Broker and The Last Juror and can’t tell you a damn thing about them. They resonated with me none. I had high hopes for The Confession as the subject matter was something that should be thought provoking and it seems to be close to Grisham on a personal level. Grisham is active with the Innocence Project, and frankly anything that he can do to bring attention to that great work is undoubtedly needed. I just couldn’t help but not give a damn about the book, though.

I don’t know the exact point in which I think Grisham fell off, but, if I name The Testament, The Brethen, The Street Lawyer, The Summons and The Last Juror, I probably couldn’t really tell you much about them. But, I did enjoy those more than the recent ones that I couldn’t tell you much about.

A Time to Kill is one of my all time favorites. I loved The Client, loved The Runaway Jury, but, he’s been crazy formulaic for a long time now. Yet, I’ve read everything. So, I guess, really, I’m not sure if that says more negative about him or I…and I’m certainly leaning towards myself.

Seriously, why can’t I quit John Grisham?

I guess it’s mainly because you know there is greatness there. That’s obvious. With each new book, I keep hoping to be taken back to a time where Grisham took some risks with what he was writing. It just hasn’t happened.


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