The Runaway Jury - John Grisham With all the new interest in non-Star Wars material, I decided to give John Grisham a chance. My mom recommended this particular book for me to start off with.

Plot:
The setting is Biloxi, Mississippi. The cast: twelve men and women. Their purpose? To determine if the widow of a man that smoked three packs of cigarettes per day should be compensated for her loss. The problem? There are people who will do and pay anything to see that the lawsuit turns out to their benefit.

Good:
The story is good. I enjoyed reading about the smoking trial, the evidence that each side provided supporting or discrediting smoking, and the antics of the trial. And I was impressed and amazed at the careful planning and strategy that Marlee and Nicholas Easter had to go through in order for their ploy to succeed.
Further, Grisham imbues this novel with subtle humor--nothing gut-wrenching, but just enough to ease back on the tension that grows with each page. Very well done and crafted.
The characters were pretty good on the whole. They are well-described, unique people thrown together against their will. They may be good, corrupt, indifferent, selfish, young, old but they are real. I was especially fond of Fitch, the villain, probably because it seems oxymoronic that a man who was addicted to alcohol would support smoking. The other character I enjoyed was Herman Grimes, partially because he seemed to be the only incorruptible one in the jury.

Bad:
The story may be good...but it takes a long time to get there. My book had 550 pages. While a lot happens in those pages and Grisham paces it well enough so you don't get bored, you still reach a point where you ask yourself, "Is this going anywhere?" "Where's the end?" and "Why is this important?"
Also, the protagonists (primary, at least), Nicholas Easter and Marlee were rather cold and unemotional. I tried to sympathize with them and like them, but they just weren't a likeable team. I was impressed with their ploy, but I had no feelings for them--not like many of the other characters (Hoppy, Derrick, etc.). Further, the explanation for why Nicholas and Marlee go through the hoopla of the trial makes little sense in light of the crazy events revealed in the conclusion.
Lastly, the story is rather far-fetched. It seems hard to believe that Easter would have been able to "hack in" to the jury system so quickly and easily, especially considering that Marlee and Easter are working independently on her own money. Also, Judge Harkin sure makes a lot of allowances for his rebellious jury that seems too placating. These and a million other convenient coincidences make it more difficult for a realistically minded person to enjoy this.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Curse words consist mostly of da**, he**, sh**, bi***, and so on. Very mild compared to other books of its kind.
I was impressed with how Grisham was able to detail a sexual situation without going into graphic detail. However, there are still several scenes to note. When in sequestration, the jurors are allotted "Conjugal Rights". Sexual situations are described in a round-about manner on several occasions. Jerry and Poodle have a liaison (and Jerry is going through a divorce).
Violence is minimal to none. A man is threatened to force his wife to vote a particular way. Fitch has a bad temper.

Overall:
A very long book. That is my first thought after finishing this one. And one in which it is hard to root for the "good" guys, who have no feelings to sympathize with. And with a very confusing ending. However, I enjoyed the trial on such a controversial subject, learning how each side was duplicitous, and seeing the individual jurors.