No one can pull off the legal thrillers as neatly as John Grisham does. I often call him the KING of Courtroom Dramas.
But Grisham has ONE problem, though. Like the middle child, he is neither consistent nor sticks to one job (What! You call a man like that an artist?).
Anyway, Grisham, being Grisham (or an artist), has tried his hands on many genres. Some are absolute blockbusters, and some are, well, not so good.
However, for a Grisham fangirl like me, that’s not a roadblock. So, I’ve read them all and put all the John Grisham books in order. This will help all the newbies who want to read his work but can’t decide where to start.
From then on, you will catch me ranting, praising, and even getting emotional as I reminisce on each book. Let’s start.
John Grisham: The Man Known for Legal Thrillers!
In his early days, Grisham was just another criminal lawyer in Mississippi. But as they say, an artist follows his callings even if it is the world’s end.
The guy dared to write a book featuring a young, ambitious lawyer who makes lemonade when life offers him a lemon.
Can you guess his very first book? Book-nerds will. Yes, A Time to Kill. Grisham took 3 years and published his first novel in 1989. Then, there was no looking back. Grisham keeps ruling the title of the No. 1 best-seller author.
Some of his books failed, and some were so good that films were made on them.
Yet, a commercial success or a catastrophic failure: nothing seems to stop this man. Grisham shamelessly keeps writing novels like it’s child’s play.
Grisham’s 51st (52nd or 53rd! Sorry, I lost count at this point) book, The Exchange: After The Firm, is out. The author is already planning his next release. Call him a workaholic or a true artist! This man seems unstoppable.
Okay, Which John Grisham Book Should You Read First?
With so many standalone books and a handful of series on the list, it is okay to feel lost. But don’t be depressed, I have a plan. Why not start from the beginning? No! Not with “A Time to Kill.”
I am talking about the “Theodore Boone Series.” If you’re between 11 – 16, this will be the perfect introduction to Grisham’s world. However, skip this series if you are an adult. There’s nothing for you in this children’s drama.
Theodore Boone Books
I don’t know where John Grisham got the idea to dedicate an entire series for kids (7 freaking books, people). Yes, these are legal thrillers with mystery involved. Grisham tried hard to present the legal terms and definitions as simply as possible.
I won’t say the “Theodore Boone” series is a complete success, but they are fun reading (except for the last one). And yes, following any order will work.
Note: Keep in mind that the targeted audience is 11 to 16-year-olds. So, ignore any childish twists and turns that may come up.
1. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (2010)
Only some people are born with superhero powers, like Theodore Boone, our 13-year-old hero and an aspiring lawyer. No, seriously! When I was 13, my only concern was my lunch box. But Theo is solving crimes and giving away legal advice to his peers.
Our mini-hero will get involved in the latest (and the biggest) murder case in the town. The accused denies the claims (so typical) even though he has a clear motive.
Theo starts the investigation and soon learns the truth (shame on the state police! A 13-year-old can beat you guys). He declares that the accused is innocent and the culprit is Pete (who escaped long ago). But the only alibi is an illegal immigrant who cannot testify in court.
The biggest(!) plot twist?
I don’t think so! Our hero manages legal papers for the immigrant and frees the accused of the charge anyway.
What a fairy tale! Of course, I am not discouraging Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. Just keep your expectations low.
2. Theodore Boone: The Abduction (2011)
John Grisham has added a grimmer plot to Theodore Boone: The Abduction to pull off a dark story. This time, April, Theodore’s friend, gets abducted by an escaped convict.
Theodore, with his uncle Ike, goes for a search. After several hours of driving, they reach April and bring her home in sound health.
There is no courtroom drama or twists in this book like part one. Instead, I will call it a flat plot. Even though I do not hate the plot entirely, a little complexity could spice things up.
3. Theodore Boone: The Accused (2012)
10 points for John Grisham. He really tried to come up with an original storyline this time. But… (Okay, I am just going to spill it) the storyline is too childish (even for a kid) and confusing.
Our hero, Theodore Boone, who can crack any case, gets accused of stealing valuable stuff. Of course, this goody-goody will do nothing of this sort, and it is evident that someone is framing him. Theo is brave enough to fight the case and clear his name.
Yes, yes! He catches the real culprit in the end (Why in the world is a teenager solving every case in the town?).
Grisham has crowded this book with too many unfamiliar characters. I guess everything makes sense in the kid’s world. Honestly, I had fun reading this book. But…. (it could be better, Grisham!).
4. Theodore Boone: The Activist (2013)
Our baby boy is growing. He is an activist now. As you know, Theodore never hesitates to solve legal issues of his friends and neighbors (He is our hero, after all). So when his friend Hardie tells him about the illegal bypass land dispute, he is there to help.
The goons and the powerful constructors try to end Theo and his rebel protest. But he manages to launch a successful campaign against the bypass and wins. It sounds too impractical, but Grisham has somehow made the actions believable.
Yes, this is a smartly written piece, and the storyline is gripping indeed. I see it as a win for Grisham, too.
5. Theodore Boone: The Fugitive (2015)
Theodore Boone: The Fugitive is compensation for all the rants I did earlier in this series. With this book, John Grisham has perfectly pulled off a thriller plot perfect for both kids and adults.
The story starts when Theo goes on a school trip in Washington, DC, and spots a wanted convict. The fugitive is none other than the real culprit from his first murder case, Pete.
It turns out Pete’s list of sins goes way beyond his wife’s murder. Theodore tips off the FBI, and they are generous enough to allow Theo to work on the case (bizarre! Theodore is just a teen!). Together, they catch and put Pete in jail.
The plot for The Fugitive is far better than the previous ones of this series. Of course, some incidents and coincidences do not make sense in this book either. But it is a fun and thrilling read anyway.
6. Theodore Boone: The Scandal (2016)
How would you feel if you learned there was a shortcut (illegal) to pass the standardized test exam in school? Angry, furious, and whatnot! Understandable. You had worked so hard, and someone had passed with a bribe or whatever.
The same thing happens with Theo. He can’t make the cut-off mark even after weeks of preparation. Then he finds out (Remember April? She informs him) about the ongoing scandal (shortcut).
April anonymously tips off the school board, and several teachers get arrested. Even though Theo is angry, he asks her mom to represent the teachers in the court so they do not get over-punishment (The classic hero move).
Grisham has made the book relatable for the first time in the Theodore series (Just being honest). It has also portrayed Theo as a more mature self. I am indeed enjoying the growth of this young lawyer and how the plot is getting practical.
7. Theodore Boone: The Accomplice (2019)
What a blunder has Grisham made! It is the worst book of this series, without any doubt.
The story starts on a high note. Woody (Theo’s acquaintance), his brother (Tony), and Grath (a spoiled brat) get arrested for armed robbery. While Grath gets bail because of family money, Woody and Tony suffer.
Theo comes forward and requests her mom to take the case. She does whatever is possible and frees the boys. The end! Miserable!
I don’t know why Grisham has focused more on the American bail system rather than the story (Dumb move).
Even if I ignore this major mistake, there is no way I can take the mechanical narrative. It gave me a headache, nothing else.
The Firm Books / Mitch McDeere Books
The Theodore Boone series is solely for kids. Do not just judge Grisham already on those too-coincidental turns and twists. As I said, skip them if you wish. Young adults can start their Grisham Book Order with a blockbuster book, The Firm.
1. The Firm (1991)
Grisham didn’t come up with something of a magical plot when he penned The Firm. The level of detail he had put in the book is unmatchable.
I instantly connected to the naivety and ambition of Mitch and Abby to start a better life. When the suspense bomb dropped, indicating a dark secret about the firm Mitch worked was too much to digest for me. I was dead worried about the couple.
Mitch and Abby are no dumb-brainers. The couple cuts a lucrative deal with the FBI in exchange for the firm’s dirty secrets. Hopping from one escape to another and fooling the masterminds, Mitch clarifies his side and starts a new life.
The journey of Mitch and Abby is no less than an action movie. In fact, the 1993 film of the same name was a direct adaptation of the book.
How good was the Firm Movie compared to the book? That’s a debate for another day.
As far as this book is concerned, there’s a power play, scandal, betrayals, and whatnot. This book is so good that you can’t put it down until you know the climax.
2. The Exchange: After the Firm (The New Release)
Grisham comes back with The Firm sequel after decades. What is he thinking?
The Firm was literally a blast. I was nervous before giving the sequel a read. Well, it’s not disappointing, but nothing wow either.
Mitch and Abby are aged and raising two kids together. They are more successful and happier than ever before, and the mafia has forgotten the poke long ago. So, what makes Grisham write this sequel?
Apparently, “After The Firm” is not about exposing anyone but who will get the money! Mitch and Abby put their armor on and go mercilessly on the bad guys this time. There’s kidnapping, blackmailing, and a trail of dead bodies in this sequel.
Even though it is no match to The Firm, the dark mysteries will force you to turn the page.
The Jake Brigance Books
The Firm is enough to convert you into a typical Grisham fan. To make you more obsessed with these legal dramas, I bring the Jake Brignance Series of books.
This young lawyer has a soft corner for the black, and Grisham has advocated for black people’s rights with his series. Just follow the publication order to stay in the loop.
1. A Time to Kill (1989)
If you are a Grisham fan, you’ve already read A Time to Kill. This first novel of Grisham was a complete blockbuster. This is the perfect book to do a Movie vs. Book comparison as well.
Grisham showed readers exactly how to tell a legal story with suspense. The story rolls in when a black man, Carl, shoots two white. The white society bursts into anger (how can a black person even touch a white?).
It turns out those bustards have raped Carl’s 10-year-old daughter (pathetic). Carl knows that justice is a myth for black people in America. So, he does what he thinks is better.
When the entire town is against Carl, Jake Brignance stands beside him, and they walk together to victory. With this book, Grisham has tapped into the deeply seated prejudices the whites carry.
Besides those twists and turns, this book depicts the emotional struggle of a father that touches everyone. I finished this book with tears in my eyes.
2. Sycamore Row (2013)
Grisham comes good with a sequel to A Time to Kill. The book talks about the same racial prejudice plus wealth, greed, and jealousy.
The opening was dark when the wealthy businessman hanged himself on a sycamore tree. His will was interesting as he had given away everything to his black maid. His good-for-nothing offspring are shocked and question their father’s relation to the maid.
Jake, the lawyer from A Time to Kill, returns to ensure the black woman gets her share of property. But the question was still there. Why would the businessman leave his property to a goddam maid?
When Jake turned to the town’s history, he discovered the property belonged to the maid’s ancestor. The businessman’s family took it over wrongfully. So, he was just trying to make things right (better late than be sorry).
Sycamore Row is one of my all-time favorites. Grisham has come up with flawed but fanciful characters that make us connect to the story even more.
3. A Time For Mercy (2020)
Grisham opens up the story with a murder. A 16-year-old boy, Drew, shoots his mom’s lover, who is not just any random guy. Kofer was a cop, a well-respected one.
The hell broke loose in Clanton, and no one wants to represent Drew. In their minds, Drew is the one guilty. How can anyone hate Kofer? Drew must have missed his dad.
Jake comes to the scene and owns up to the case. After some digging, Jake reveals the truth. He exposes the real abusive face of Kofer. He was a drunk and an abuser. Kofer not only used to hurt Drew’s mom, this monster dared to hurt her sibling, too.
How can Drew let this pig live? So, he finished him off.
I felt pity for Drew and the trauma his family experienced every night. This is the story of many Americans who mask their troubles with a happy face. With this book, Grisham welcomes them to come out and make a statement against the monsters.
4. Sparring Partners (2022) (Novella Collection)
The last book of the Jake Brignance series is a hit, too. It is a collection of 3 novellas, each story with a separate tone and motive.
We can see that Jake is back in town to clear his family name in Homecoming. The story sounds too commercial and needs more depth. Jake is an established character in our mind, and Grisham has ruined this image.
The second story, the Strawberry Moon, is better than the Homecoming. Cody’s last hours before the death row will make you emotional. It brilliantly captures the beauty of life and how we spoil it all away.
Grisham had kept the best for the last. The Sparring Parteners is a story of a family and their internal connection. After the father, two brothers take over the law firm and unfold the shady sides of their father.
The Sparring Partners is lighter and more thought-provoking than the other books in this series. It is a lightweight but entertaining read, indeed.
John Grisham Standalone Books
It took me years to finish all of Grisham’s standalone books. Trust me. Not all of them deserve your time.
You can randomly pick one book and risk disappointment. Or just follow the perfect order of things if you are too determined to finish every piece written by Grisham. I am going to serve the best first and leave the garbage for later so that you can skip them.
1. The Chamber (1994)
Sam Cayhall, a member of a hate group, has done heinous crimes in his 69 years of life. He is sentenced to death in a gas chamber for bombing a law firm and killing a twin.
Of course, Sam was not the one who orchestrated the bombing. Yet, he stays silent to prove his loyalty to the hate group. Happenstance, his case goes to a young lawyer, Adam, who is his grandson (What is this? Destiny?).
Apparently, Sam’s son was ashamed of him and left home. No wonder Adam didn’t know anything about his grandfather. After digesting the truth, Adam focuses on bringing justice for Sam.
If you ignore the loopholes, you will be racing through the pages of this book. John Grisham has undoubtedly outdone himself. He has wonderfully captured the emotional journey of Sam and the moral dilemma of Adam in just 468 pages. It is a must-read for all Grisham fans.
2. The Pelican Brief (1992)
The back-to-back killing of two U.S. Supreme Court Justices and the assassin is a multi-million oil venture. There you have all my attention!
Darby’s dedication to connecting the dots has made me feel stupid and lazy. From escaping bounties to surviving explosives, my girl has survived them all. I’ve become a fan already and am down for any book series on Darby.
Gary has undoubtedly been a huge help. In fact, without him, all the grief and soul-aching trauma of Darby would go to waste. But the news covering has given Gary his biggest break, too.
As with many John Grisham Books on my list, The Pelican Brief got its own movie. Keep an eye on our The Pelican Brief book review to figure out how faithful the film was to the source.
3. The Client (1993)
The story begins on a dark note. Mark Sway, an 11-year-old boy, and his young brother witness a suicide attempt by a mafia lawyer, Clifford (just reading this gives me trauma).
Clifford tips Mike off about the whereabouts of the most wanted dead body in the USA. He confesses that a mob is behind the evidence tampering.
Mike gets scared like hell and confides in an intelligent attorney, Reggie. The lawyer grapples to protect Mike as the rumors of his involvement go public.
Both the law and the mafia target Mike to be on their side. In the end, Reggie, with the help of an ex-cop, finds a way to prevail justice without jeopardizing Mike’s safety.
The way Grisham portrayed the high-stakes situations and intense suspense is commendable. I am sure the harrowing journey of Mike will put anyone in awe.
4. The Runaway Jury (1996)
John Grisham once again came through with this book. The story begins with Rohr filing a lawsuit against a multi-billion tobacco company. To turn the table to the favor, the tobacco company hires Fitch, who has a record of manipulating jury decisions.
The moment the cat-and-mouse game between Rohr and Fitch gets intense, a new character comes into the picture, Marlee.
Marlee makes both Rohr and Fitch believe that she is on their side. But the truth is she has a different intention altogether. In the end, Marlee plays Rohr and Fitch, orchestrating a victory for her.
Grisham’s compelling narrative leaves the readers in suspense throughout the book. Honestly, I was not expecting the twisted ending at all. It was a fine show of manipulation and mind game. It’s a must-read for any legal thriller lover.
5. Ford County (2009)
Grisham has barely found his feet in the non-legal thrillers. There may be better moves than writing short stories right now. Admit it. Not everyone is a Kafka.
But Grisham has proved me wrong. Ford County, a collection of 7 short stories, all based on Southern Mississippi, has blown me away. From Blood Drive to Funny Boy, each tale has taken unexpected turns with unimaginable endings.
I had connected to Michael when all his family went against him. The sympathy for Adrian was genuine from me. In fact, I had held my breath when Wayne, Calvin, and Roger drove to Memphis from Clanton. Those unforeseen events were too much to grasp.
Trust me! This book is a real deal. You get the taste of blood, greed, poverty, racism, and whatnot—a perfect book for the suspense-hungry minds.
6. The Partner (1997)
What if I offer you $90 million to get a fresh start on your life? Impossible.
Not for Patrick. He stages his own death, steals from his law firm, and flees the country with $90 million in his pocket.
Unlucky Patrick! Soon, he gets caught and is handed over to the FBI. After surviving torturous nights in the cell and several courtroom dramas, Patrick cuts a deal with the damaged party. He returns $90 million, keeping the $10 million interest.
Patrick’s girlfriend, Eva, transfers the money on his behalf, and they are all set to meet in Paris. But guess what? Karma’s a bitch, and Eva does not show up in Paris (she has the rest of the money).
Such a masterful bittersweet ending, along with immense detailing, makes The Partner a complete page-turner. The plot is so perfect that I almost took it as a real-life story. Deep down, I want Grisham to put a nice end to Patrick’s character in one of his future novels.
7. The Last Juror (2004)
I still can’t digest all those 2/3 stars on Goodreads. Have you ever read The Last Juror? It is a pretty decent plot.
The rapist and murderer, Danny, gets what he deserves (a bullet in the head), and Callie receives his fair share of respect. Not to mention, Willie becomes a hot name in the newspaper business.
The courtroom drama was on point, and the suspense when Danny got shot was on point! I was so sure that Danny was the one behind the series of killings, but his own murder put me in the dark. Basically, the twisted end was what made this book so satisfying.
8. The Innocent Man (2006)
When I got the news that our man Grisham was writing non-fiction, that too on the most talked-American legal case, I was nervous; that book could either be a disaster or the no. 1 seller. There was no settling for average.
Guess what? Grisham has magnificently captured the journey of Ron Williamson, his rise and his fall. Kudos to Grisham’s spellbound writing. I felt horror when reading the rape and murder details of Debra, and I was raged when Ron was wrongfully accused of the case.
Ron spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and died in 2004. I had mixed feelings after finishing this novel. Each real-life character touched me, and at the same time, I was infuriated by our justice system. “Innocent until proven guilty.” What a joke!
9. Gray Mountain (2014)
Grisham has tapped into some heavy issues again with the Gray Mountain. He has pointed fingers at coal astrocytes and the malpractice of law to make these bastards even richer.
He has created Samantha to give voice to this issue. Samantha is a Wall Street lawyer who gets furloughed due to the 2008 economic tank. She takes a job at a non-profit and gets assigned a task related to the coalfield.
Still trying to figure out the job and the tacky environment, Samantha starts working on the cases. Soon, she realizes what is happening with the miners and their families.
She can be from the upper class, but she is not a chicken. Samantha advocates for the miners to establish their rights.
Gray Mountain is inspiring and thought-provoking. It is not a typical Grisham novel but one you can’t measure with any ratings.
10. Sooley (2021)
After reading Calico Joe, Bleachers, and Play for Pizza, I was still determining if Grisham could pull off another sports story. The guy loves to prove everyone wrong. Sooley is a wholesome story that made me cry. Those were the tears of happiness.
Sooley’s presence on the basketball court has talked a thousand words. Sooley, a South Sudanese, represents the unfulfilled dreams of a war-torn country. Sooley, the young boy, stands for dedication, vision, and responsibility.
I have not seen such character development in any of Grisham’s other books on this list. Sooley stands out from them all.
Readers remain compassionate with each of Sooley’s victories, anxieties, and panics. Sooley is indeed one of the best books of JG so far.
11. A Painted House (2001)
Grisham deserves admiration for how wonderfully he has captured country life. Through the eyes of 7-year-old Luke, I can see the world differently. Though Luke is way more poetic than his age, life seems vibrant.
Luke’s introduction to Tally, their love connection, his witnessing a murder, and panicking over years of harvest. Everything gave me a taste of farming life. I can still see their fields and villages from the top if I close my eyes.
With A Painted House, Grisham illustrated the complications of life. The scene when Luke and his family moved to another place made me cry. But also, it just felt right. I finished this book with a hollowness growing inside me, making me realize the value of family.
12. The Rainmaker (1995)
Rudy Baylor, a fresh law school graduate, is central to this story. Our protagonist still struggles to find his foot in the legal world and takes on a case just for survival. When Rudy starts investigating, the disclosing information keeps him in shock.
A simple insurance scheme turns out to be a multi-billion-dollar scam. Rudy pulls off every legal trick possible to establish justice.
I know the current readers find The Rainmaker boring. That is because all the TV shows, movies, and novels have used the plot in various ways with additional spice. In fact, you’ll find a Tom Cruise Movie Adaptation by the same name!
But remember, it was John Grisham who had addressed the insurance scam back in 1995 and made the people of their rights.
Well, even with a predictable ending, Grisham’s masterful writing will not let you put this book down. The Rainmaker can be a light and fun read in your travels.
13. The Testament (1999)
Grisham has gotten out of his courtroom dramas with this book and has come with a heart-touching redemption story.
The plot is relatively simple. A billionaire commits suicide and wills everything to his illegitimate daughter, Rachel (who is nowhere to be seen).
The law firm assigns Nate to track Rachel down. Nate here is an alcoholic and ruining his own career. He somehow manages to find Rachel (Guess what! This future billionaire is a missionary in Brazil).
Wait! The story still needs to be finished. Nate gets struck by the simple existence of Rachel and repents over his past actions.
Even though the story sounds like a fairy tale, Grisham has made all the events believable. He has mixed the law suspense with the outdoor adventure, which fits perfectly. Remember, The Testament is not a heavy read. Only select this book from Our John Grisham Books’ list if you want to be entertained.
14. The Boys From Biloxi (2022)
Good vs. Evil. That’s the plot of “The Boys From Biloxi.”
The story stars Keith and Hugh, buddies from school days. Even with the bond, they end up having separate fates. While Keith becomes a successful lawyer, Hugh is happy in his nightclub doing shady deals.
As the time comes, Keith runs for the District Attorney position and swears to clean up the street from vice. He knows he has to face his childhood friend first and put him behind bars.
All the equations go messed up, and everyone is against everyone. There’s greed, power, loyalty, and betrayal. This is the perfect combination of family and courtroom drama.
15. The Broker (2005)
Underdogs vs. the heavy lifters! The plot constantly reminds me of The Firm. Maybe that is the reason I can’t resonate with the story.
Don’t get me wrong. The Broker is a mind-blowing chase thriller piece. Grisham did a fantastic job illustrating the presidential patronage and USA scandals.
There will be times in the book when you’ll find yourself worrying about Joel Blackman, the pawn of the CIA. I agree Joel is not a saint himself. So now that his enemies want his head, it is not surprising. You gotta pay for your businesses. Right?
The Broker is just another Hollywood-type action thriller. You know the story, and the ending is almost predictable. The only part I enjoy is Joel’s luxurious living in Italy and, of course, those countless killings.
16. The King of Torts (2003)
Okay, why is this book here when I put John Grisham Books in Order?
That’s because the life of Clay Carter is what I want. From the street lawyer to the king of torts, Clay is just damn lucky. His back-to-back wins, owning a goddam law firm, dating a model, everything seems fake and unrealistic.
He loses his charm even more when he questions his morals to betray his client. Dude, you have none. Hello!
Do I hate Clay? Do I need to spill it? Okay, yes! I understand his heartbreak and the struggle he has experienced. But no one turns into such an unapologetic goat. Right?
The best part of the book for me is Clay’s fall. Gosh! I might have tears of happiness.
17. The Appeal (2008)
A case against a big shot company for whatever social cause and the verdict goes against them ($41 million fine)! Well, that’s the novel I want to read on my shining holidays.
The plot is predictable, even for a 3-year-old. In fact, Grisham has dropped hints of a happy ending here and there.
Obviously, the company will never hand over the money. The easiest way to turn the table is to buy the judge (There you go! Sold).
This dirty politics goes wrong when the corrupt judge loses his son, and suddenly, he becomes the GOD of virtues. He drops the money and becomes a hero by serving justice to the victim party. Bro has only one job, and now he wants appreciation for that.
Anyway, as I said, this book will fit the category of a holiday read only when you put little thought into it. Otherwise, you will get upset by the haunting reality it portrays.
18. The Associate (2009)
What do you call someone who copies his own work? A copycat? No, not quite. Umm… Remake? Well, you can call this one. Grisham just recycled things with The Associate. It is an extended version of his famous work, The Firm.
The story is about a law associate, Kyle, who works even in his sleep and how his shady past blackmails the present. The threats and pressure on Kyle to give up valuable information to the bad guys almost feel real.
But the ending! God! It lacks excitement and reality. Instead of making Kyle the hero, a little twist was necessary to make him suffer (he deserves this, for sure). That would be more satisfying, at least for me.
19. The Confession (2010)
Grisham, with his 2010 novel, is on a noble crusade to prove “Truth Prevails.” Honestly speaking, it might feel corny to a lot of you.
Travis confesses his darkest secret to the pastor. He has raped and murdered a high school cheerleader. Travis is dying of a brain tumor, and he finds it the right decision to make.
The story gets intense as someone else confesses to the same case. Wait! How can that be possible?
I was upset to see how state officers forced a black character, Drumm, to admit a crime he did not commit. For these evils in power, forging and even making up evidence is an everyday task.
Drumm gets an army who fights on his behalf, on behalf of the truth. And what happens in the end? The truth wins, of course.
I agree that The Confession is not the best of Grisham’s. But I still pick this up just for the sake of the courtroom dramas. And guess what? My money didn’t go to waste.
20. The Guardians (2019)
When I learned The Guardians is a fictional story in disguise, I got intrigued and bought it immediately. Grisham was on his “A Game” with this book. No arguments there.
Cullan’s purity touched my heart. This young lawyer is doing everything in his power to make things right. How Grisham has portrayed Duke and his last meal will stay with me forever. I can’t imagine how the wrongly accused ones feel.
Cullen, as well as the Guardians, have a heart of gold. How they have left their glamorous life to help people is truly inspiring. Grisham didn’t hesitate to crown these lawyers as heroes.
21. Skipping Christmas (2001)
If only Grisham hadn’t read my mind with this book. How often have I wanted to skip Christmas (don’t get triggered)? Obviously, I couldn’t. I am no Luther or Nora.
Luther and Nora Krank deserve all the appreciation for making a bold decision to skip Christmas this year. But not everyone is like us (cruel world). They put their gears on and pull off stunts to make them change their minds.
No one does change their mind but their daughter Blair. She decides to spend Christmas with her family. So Luther and Nora are now busy decorating the home for their daughter, who is just hours away.
Skipping Christmas is a light and happy novel from Grisham’s end. I read it on Christmas, and it just matched the holiday vibe. Celebrating Christmas with family and a snowman is cheerful, after all.
22. The Racketeer (2012)
It seems like Malcolm Bannister is not so cunning after all. Otherwise, how can you explain a lawyer getting imprisoned for a crime he knows nothing about?
Brother Bannister is not that worried, though. He is having a good time maintaining the prison library. What else can he do? His life outside is ruined anyway.
We are not interested in Bannister’s boring life. Right? So, Grisham kills the judge and keeps the killers in suspense. Guess who knows the murderers? Our boring hero, Bannister.
So, he cuts a deal with the FBI. He will identify the killers in exchange for a new life. The story gets better as Bannister keeps popping surprises and takes unimaginable turns. A satisfying ending!
23. Playing for Pizza (2007)
As we are in our 20s (Not talking about age, the Grisham Book Order), here’s a unique one.
Everyone has bad days! But the question is, how bad? Our hero, Rick, has blown the Super Bowl game on his harmful (worst) day. Result? He is out of the team and now plays for pizza in some not-so-known Italian league.
Rick’s switch to Italy from America is quite intriguing. I have explored the cultures, cities, and delicacies of Italy, and I already want to move there.
I admire how Rick has tried to adjust to his new team. Though the story centers around football, you do not have to be a fan (of either football or Grisham). You will just get it. Besides, there is drama, victory and loss, love and hate, and whatnot.
Frankly, I expected a little from Grisham with this book, as his previous sports fiction was flat. But this book is such a delight that you will ask for more.
24. The Litigators (2011)
A struggling lawyer, David, sick of his high-profile law firm (quite the judgment), quits his job. Next, he gets appointed to another law firm famous for its shady activities. Our hero wants a kick from his life.
David’s current firm decides to poke a large supplement company (so typical). This will bring millions to the table. Of course, who doesn’t want easy money?
But the firm gets in trouble when the drug company proves its authenticity and legality. Doom is the firm, and so is our hero. But hey! David is our hero, after all. How can he lose?
Yeah… yeah. Grisham made him open his own firm by winning a big case (What now?).
Keeping the plot aside, Grisham has worked on the humor and added charismatic characters to the book. Give this a read if you are a Grisham fan. Otherwise, don’t. You already know the plot.
25. The Rooster Bar (2018)
The 4 musketeers, Zola, Mark, Todd, and Gordy, were living the best days of their lives (!) until they realized they had a tremendous education loan to pay. Gordy got distressed and killed himself (Idiot).
More depression was coming the way of Zola, Todd, and Mark. They dropped out of law school and moved to another city, changing their names. There, they opened a fake law firm and hunted clients only who would pay in cash.
Time ran out as the world fell on these thugs. They are trapped in a grave they dug. But as predicted, they get a way out.
Even though the book sounds interesting, it is a mess. Grisham might have printed his unedited copy mistakenly. Everything happens so quickly that you do not know what to expect. And climax? There is none.
26. The Street Lawyer (1998)
In my opinion, The Street Lawyer is overrated. Hate me with all your hearts, but you can not change my mind. I have no doubts about Grisham’s writing capabilities. But the plot of this book is too good to be true.
Michael, the main character of our story, lives a lavish life and does not give a damn about society. On one unlucky day, Michael encounters a violent homeless man, and the incident shifts something inside him.
Our hero turns his back on the prestigious career and dedicates his life to advocating for the poor.
I understand Grisham wanted to show us the transformation of Michael. But the storyline just failed to build a real depth to this character. If you really want my suggestion, watch some mindless drama rather than reading this book.
27. Calico Joe (2012)
I could never imagine that Grisham would write a baseball-based book until I read Calico Joe. Calico, our next Ty Cobb, has won every heart with his baseball stunt (Not mine. What a poor character!).
So, when Calico’s career ends because Warren beans his head (intentionally), I feel absolutely nothing. Yes, I have a heart of stone.
Fast forward 4 decades, Calico is a groundskeeper, and Warren is a cancer patient (Karma served Warren, I see). Paul, Warren’s son, being the bigger person, tries making him apologize to Calico.
What a redemption story (pun intended). Warren just says sorry because he has to, and Calico forgives him, well, because he is our hero. No plot twists! No suspense! Grisham has just served you a boring BASEBALL story on your plate.
I mean, there’s a reason why I buried a book this deep when compiling John Grisham Books in Order. Read this and you’ll know. I dare you.
What a disappointment!
28. The Brethren (2000)
After giving back-to-back best sellers, Grisham decided to hit for an average (read below average) storyline for his readers. Here, I present The Brethren, the story of 3 corrupted ex-judges imprisoned for their mess.
Instead of redemption, these rats keep blackmailing people using their nasty secrets (homosexuality).
On one fine occasion, this trio manages to lure a congress member, Nate (a potential USA president), into their trap. But the CIA, who is supporting this puppet, can’t afford this exposure. So, the CIA cuts a deal with the brethren, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Who to connect to in this story? I found no hero in this tale of crime and corruption (maybe that was Grisham’s intention after all). Not to mention, the narrative was a bit too cold—2/5 ratings from my end.
29. The Summons (2002)
Ray finds $3 million cash lying in his dead father’s house. Surprisingly, there is no account made for the sum. Ray (confused about what to do with the money) runs from place to place to trace the source of this sudden lottery.
What a stupid moral rat! He is greedy enough to take the money in, but ethics come first! A shitshow. This is what this book is about.
Honestly, Grisham started The Summon on a note of suspense. I could not resist thinking about what was going to happen next. Then, he did a whack job in making the characters wow. The slow-paced talking and useless encounters just made the book an eternity in hell for me.
30. The Reckoning (2019)
I wish I could say Grisham killed this historical fiction plus legal thriller. He didn’t.
When Pete, the war hero, returns to the village and shoots a man, it creates suspense. His silence just makes the plot more interesting.
Pete has no issues getting arrested or on his death row. But his entire family breaks down in the process – a selfish move from Pete, no doubt.
But the question remains: why did Pete kill that man? Apparently, when Pete was away in his war, his wife had an affair and got pregnant. It’s revenge for Pete.
After the mysterious opening, the plot fell flat. The jibber jabber of Pete’s war memory was irrelevant and just a waste of pages. It’s not a book I recommend at all.
31. Bleachers (2003)
No legal clunks. No dodgy juries. No mafia murders.
Umm… What should I call this book? Awful is not enough.
Yup. Not a football fan here, and I do not think any football fan will cheer this book either.
Eddie Rake’s funeral, the larger-than-life football coach of Messina, has drawn thousands of football-obsessed to the town. We can see Eddie through the eyes of Neely and his childhood friends. They sit in a bar and reminisce about their old school days and football.
The story is soft and plain. I thought those details of football matches would bore me to death. Okay! I got the word. Torture. That is what this book is.
32. The Tumor: A Non-Legal Thriller (2016) (Novella)
Can anyone tell me why Grisham came up with this nonsense (aka cancer) in the first place?
I appreciate Grisham’s intention to educate people on cancer treatments. I get it. He wants us to worship the ULTRASONIC TREATMENT. But dude! This book is boring, in fact, a slump.
Grisham could’ve added some depth to Paul’s character (our protagonist with a brain tumor). More insights into Paul’s life and family instead of the bookish knowledge of ultrasonic machines would be much appreciated.
Even though the book is around 67 pages, I don’t think anyone with the right mind will enjoy it. But who am I to stop you? Test your patience by yourself.
Rogue Lawyer Books
Ah! The Rogue book series is one of my favorites. Grisham has devised a character who can sneak into the corrupted system and bring justice anyway—a tit-for-tat. There are only two books in this series (I hope Grisham will add more). So read in the publication order.
1. Rogue Lawyer (2015)
The main job of a lawyer is to win, not to serve justice. It is the exact preaching of Grisham in this book. Don’t already hate the plot and cancel out Grisham. You are bound to fall in love with Ruds, the rogue lawyer. He is cunning and knows how to do business.
He does not dash away from cases just because they are seedier. But Rudd skirts the law to his own favor. Rudd is the stud we all want to become.
The book is not like a typical Grisham story. There is no storyline, only scenes, and the book is a collection of short stories on Rudd and his cases.
But in the end, all pieces fall in order, and Rudd emerges as a practical everyday character. No wonder readers can actually connect to him more.
2. Partners (2016) (Short Story Prequel)
If you were me, a big fan of Rudd, this book can be a birthday gift from Grisham. He writes this 50-page book, basically a short story starring Rudd.
This time, Rudd is stubborn and takes sides with Tee Ray. Our new character has been linked to a police shooting case, and he claims himself to be innocent. But the police won’t believe this. They want Ray behind the bars. Rudd stands beside Ray and supports him to the end.
Partners is a half-baked plot and not any electrified novel. It is a quick read and needs no recommendation.
Camino Island Books from John Grisham
Are you looking for beach reads? Try the Camino Island book series. The plot is not less than any movie and will keep you busy for sure. On top of that, Grisham has tried to put a love angle in his novels for the first time. So why wait?
1. Camino Island, 2017
Let’s clear the air first. Camino Island is not a crime thriller nor a proper chase story. But the plot is quite interesting.
Theft of a rare manuscript and a whole recovery team to retrieve the asset at any cost. The suspect is too stubborn (and hot) to accept his crime. He will not lose the property even if he has to give his life.
There are bits in the plot you can’t miss. The way Mercer (our protagonist) stages the plan to trap Bruce (the suspect) backfires, and she falls for this cracknut criminal instead. But a job is a job and anything to overcome writer’s block. Mercer does what she has to.
Ultimately, it turns out our hot huy Bruce is not the thief (Mercer deserves a hug). Yet, he gets a win for the trouble, too.
Camino Island grows at its own pace, feeding the readers with whatever is right for the plot. As I said, it is a book perfect for a beach read.
2. Camino Winds, 2020
A hurricane hits the Camino islands, and there is a row of dead bodies. But among those, one body (Nelson’s) did not die because of the disaster. He was killed.
Our suspect, Bruce from the previous plot, takes responsibility and investigates the case. He uncovers a manuscript written by Nelson. Finding no other clue, Bruce starts reading it, and he gets his hand on a drug scam in the local care facility.
Even though I am unsure whether the manuscript is based on reality, Bruce follows this only clue. He soon exposes the entire racket and brings justice to Nelson’s death.
Camio Winds follows different traits than Camino Island. But that does not make the book boring. As the story unfolds, more crimes break out, introducing some colorful characters. Nothing seems impractical in this novel, and the incidents will push you to read forward.
Lacy Stoltz / The Whistler Books in Order from John Grisham
Planning to read the Lacy Stoltz series? Start from anywhere. There is little relevance in the stories. So, you will not miss out on something big. However, finishing the books in a sequel will clarify the existing characters. That’s all.
1. Witness to a Trial (2016) (Short Story Prequel)
I always say Grisham wrote this book in secret. It’s no surprise that only some know about this book. This 2016 book sets up the plot for its sequel, The Whistler.
Honestly, I found nothing unique about this book (Don’t hate me, please!). The plot rolls in with Junior Mace, who was falsely accused of murdering his wife and her lover (Yes, adultery).
Junior Mace denied the claims, tagging these as a business conspiracy. But the police, prosecutor, jury, and even the judge were against him from day 1. (How cruel of them!)
Unlucky Mace! The only person who knew the truth was selfish enough and never went on the record.
As I said, there is no earth-shattering plot at all. Reading it will only justify the sudden poppings of some characters and their motives. Also, it is a short read and will take an hour at best.
2. The Whistler (2016)
The Whistler is a book with empty calories. I cannot agree more.
I got my hopes up as the story opens on a high note: a mysterious tip on the most corrupt judge in the history of the USA. Anyone will fall for it.
Lacy Stoltz, a lawyer, enters the plot and starts investigating the case with her partner, Hugo Hatch (Why is a lawyer being a detective?). It takes them a second to realize the mafia link behind the corruption.
The mafia mastermind does everything to stop the duo. He even kills Hugo (RIP!) and finds the real WHISTLER (who passes the secret information), JoHelen Hooper.
He sends a hitman to kill Hooper, but Lucy is her guardian angel. They manage to escape the facade and transfer the evidence to the FBI.
And yes! All the criminals get their share of punishment, and the heroes live happily ever after.
It’s a predictable story with expected twists, not what you expect from Grisham.
3. The Judge’s List (2021)
The Judge’s List is a sleek little murder mystery with the perfect mix of legal thrillers.
The Whistle’s character, Lacy Stoltz, is seen to dedicate herself to doing the grubby crime investigation. This time, the allegations are severe, and those are against a sitting judge, who happens to be a serial killer (Perfect plot).
John Grisham has beautifully captured how the twisted past can make even a well-educated person thirsty for blood.
This powerful judge murdered at least 6 people, and he has a never-ending list in his hands. Thankfully, Lacy stops this psychopath and once again lives the heroic moment.
The Judge’s List is not a courtroom drama (at least not like the typical John Grisham plot). Yet, the pulse-pounding game between Lacy and the lethal opponent will not disappoint you. For me, this is the best among the Lacy Stoltz series.
Let’s Wrap Things Up!
I count myself as a fan of Grisham, no doubt (who else will read all his books? duh!). Yet, I will not spare any chance to criticize him (C’mon! I have big hopes for our boy Grisham).
I have been brutally honest when compiling John Grisham Books in order, and I apologize if you find this offensive.
Grisham is a fine storyteller. But do not waste your time reading all his works. Soon, you will see how predictable those storylines can be. It is better to aim for his best writings than wasting your hard-earned money on garbage plots.