The Last Juror is a 2004 novel by John Grisham. It takes place throughout the 1970s in Ford County, Mississippi and begins as the narrator, a young roustabout booted from Syracuse J-school moves to Clanton, Mississippi (by way of Memphis) and buys the local newspaper out from a retiring publisher, whose progressivism begins and ends with extending the obituary section to the Black residents of the town. Young and brash and not really knowing what he’s doing, the narrator gets his break when a local single mother is the victim of a horrifying murder that shocks the town. A local rich asshole, the child and grandchild of the local moonshine-running clan is arrested and the sensationalist (if true) coverage that the newspaper provides helps the business.
The crime is the center of the novel, but the trial is over by about halfway through. The resulting verdict and its resonance continue throughout the rest of the novel.
I think this one is a lot better than The Firm, which I read a few weeks back. That book is purely a thriller and never really rises to the level of anything more than that. There’s not a lot of “literariness” happening in that one. Here, it’s limited, but there’s a lot more focus on character, the town, the setting, and some actual ideas in addition what amounts to a minor thriller.
I think the ending of this novel, like that novel, is pretty weak and underwhelming, but the build up is more or less well done.