John Grisham has become one of the most successful authors in the United States, all thanks to his experiences as an attorney. A graduate of Mississippi State University, John acquired his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. In addition to practicing law for about a decade, he also served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representative from 1984 to 1990. He began his writing career in 1989, releasing his first novel, A Time to Kill. However, following the success of his second novel, The Firm, he ultimately ditched his law and political career to venture into writing full time. Today, John Grisham books are regarded as a must-read for everyone both in the US and beyond.
The author has written several bestsellers, some of which has been adapted into successful TV series and feature films. With a career spanning over three decades and counting, Grisham has made a name for himself as one of the bestselling authors in the United States and is currently regarded as the ‘King of Legal Thrillers,’ as most of his books revolve around Law. Here, we take a look at John Grisham books as they are ranked from best to worst including his other works.
List of John Grisham Books Rated From Best to Worst
1. The Firm (1991)
The Firm might not be John Grisham’s first book, but certainly, one that ushered the American writer into the limelight and made him a household name. Released in 1991, The Firm is Grisham’s second book. It entails the story of a young law school graduate who gets mixed up with the mob after taking a job offer that seems too good to be true. The storyline shows how our greed and upbringing can lead us to make choices that may affect our lives. Soon after it was released in 1991, this legal thriller quickly became a bestseller with over 1.5 million copies sold as of 1993. The novel was also adapted into a TV series and feature film of the same name starring the likes of Gene Hackman, Tom Cruise, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
2. The Partner (1997)
Although he has written many books both in the fiction and non-fiction genre, The Partner is undoubtedly one with the best ending. It follows a Mississippi lawyer who fakes his own death, steals $90 million and flees to Brazil. However, he was found four years later and brought home, but not without secrets and plans of his own. This book is regarded as one of the best John Grisham books out there. With a very sensational storyline, it also comes with a lot of suspense, thereby leaving the reader guessing from the beginning to the end. It was John’s eighth novel and was released in 1997.
3. The Last Juror (2004)
Yet another legal thriller from John Grisham, The Last Juror combines both courtroom drama and small-town lawyers with typical Southern Living and one man’s maturity into adulthood in the 1970s. It revolves around people in a fictional Ford County including a gruesome murder, its trial, and the aftermath. Released in 2004, The Last Juror came about fifteen years after Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, it is a prequel to the former. It was set several years before the events of A Time to Kill and also features some of the characters with the same occupation and characteristics.
4. The Rainmaker (1995)
An outstanding piece from the writer, The Rainmaker brings humor, law, optimism, love, despair and post-college angst into a simple narrative. Released in 1995, it is the sixth novel from Grisham and differs from most of his other works owing to the fact that it was written in the simple past tense. It chronicles the life of a law graduate with no experience, his struggles to find a job, and his travails trying to win a case against ruthless lawyers from an evil corporation. In this novel, John tries to balance idealism with enough reality and that places it among his best works so far. More so, the novel was adapted into a feature film of the same name starring Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, and Danny Glover in 1997.
5. The Testament (1999)
Another John Grisham novel that is filled with suspense, but yet a great storyline. The plot comes with a spin and explores different sides of peoples’ lives including materialism, greed, sin, and redemption. It has a dual plot of a lawyer searching for a missionary in Brazil while a group of heirs challenges a will back home, with clever plot twists and a surprising ending. The novel also unleashes the writer’s personal societal perception and how others perceive the crème de la crème of our society. Released in 1999, the 448-paged hardcover adventure novel is Graham’s tenth novel and undoubtedly one of his best works out there.
6. A Time To Kill (1989)
This happens to be John Grisham’s first novel. Even though it was not an instant success as the book was rejected by many publishers at first, nevertheless, the writer was undeterred. He kept on writing and following the success of his second book, The Firm, A Time to Kill later translated into a bestseller a few years later. According to the writer, A Time to Kill, which is a sequel to The Last Juror (released in 2004), was inspired by his experience in DeSoto County courthouse in Hernando in 1984. There, he witnessed the acutely distressing testimony of a 12-year old rape victim. Adding to its intrigue and suspense, the novel explores racial violence and retribution. More so, in 1996, it was adapted into a film of the same name, having the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey as its major cast.
7. The Broker (2005)
Set in the Bologna City of Italy, The Broker spins around the CIA, a presidential pardon, and a good bit of international intrigue. Even though the novel contains much of the maneuvering, suspense, and intrigue, as seen in some of Grisham’s best works, The Broker seems like just Bologna’s travel guide, with a long description of meals, landmarks, and a romantic subplot that leads to nowhere. Soon after it was released, the novel went atop the New York Bestsellers list; that notwithstanding, it garnered mixed reviews from fans and critics.
8. Skipping Christmas (2001)
While John Grisham is well-known for his legal fiction novels, hardly would anyone believe he writes on other aspects like comedy. Skipping Christmas is a comedy novel with its focus on how a couple who are fed up with the commercialization of Christmas decides to skip the holiday. Although it has a clever setup and was a New York Times Bestseller, the novel lacks humor and its ending is somewhat sentimental. The good part is that it was adapted into a movie titled Christmas with the Kranks in 2004 and an audiobook in 2006.
9. The Confession (2010)
An interesting fact about the Grisham is that his inspiration is drawn majorly from actual events and this 2010 novel, The Confession is indifferent. The novel delves into the problems of wrongful convictions and the death penalty. However, somewhere along the line, it becomes unexciting and unconvincing, with caricatures more than characters, painfully long, and drown-out scenes. The story ended in both predictable and unsatisfying way.
10. The Whistler (2016)
Another legal fiction thriller released in 2016, The Whistler centers on the legal and moral problems faced in Native American gaming – Casinos. It also chronicles the life of a corrupt judge (Claudia McDover) and the lawyer (Ramsey Mix) who would like to bring him down. However, Mix is no angel himself as he was previously disbarred. Despite having eye-popping plot twists, The Whistler doesn’t have any climax or suspense as the story is explained in a basic and very boring manner until it gets to the end.
Other Books by John Grisham
The American author has shown his deft writing ability and has released over 40 novels since the inception of his career. He has also written non-fiction and other short stories. During the ‘90s, John Grisham authored several books including The Pelican Brief (1992), The Client (1993), The Chamber (1994), The Runaway Jury (1996), and The Street Lawyer (1998). At the dawn of the millennium, he published The Brethren in the year 2000. In the years that follow, he released A Painted House (2001), The Summons (2002), The King of Torts and Bleachers in 2003; Playing for Pizza (2007), The Appeal (2008), and The Associate (2009).
From 2010 to date, John has published works including Theodore Bone: Kid Lawyer (2010), The Litigators and Theodore Boone: The Abduction in 2011; Calico Joe, The Racketeer, and Theodore Boone: The Accused in 2012; Sycamore Row and Theodore Boone: The Activist (2013); Gray Mountain (2014), Theodore Boone: The Fugitive and Rogue Lawyer (2015); Theodore Boone: The Scandal (2016), The Rooster Bar and Camino Island in 2017; The Reckoning (2018), and Theodore Boone: The Accomplice and The Guardians in 2019.