What to Do When Skies Aren’t Blue…

In this columnist’s humble opinion, there is one modern author whose thrilling mystery and crime novels cross gender and age barriers like no others. Forget about the gloom of the next cloudy day and get lost in our favorites of this renowned author’s best-sellers. Here at BLAST!, we salute you, John Grisham. Newcomers to the literary world of Grisham can get started with one of these three fan favorites. But proceed with caution…readers are likely to get hooked on these page-turners.

1. A Time to Kill

Grisham’s first novel, published in 1989, A Time to Kill was originally overlooked by most of the literary community. But after the sweeping success of The Firm and The Pelican Brief, Grisham’s inaugural novel received the accolades that its exceptional and daring plotline truly deserved. A poignant legal tale probing the depths of taboo racial violence, this novel details the struggle of 10 year-old Tonya Hailey after her life is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle — and takes justice into his own outraged hands. For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own. The 1996 film adaptation of A Time to Kill features Hollywood superstars Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson.

2. The Firm

The Firm, originally published in 1991, has stood the test of time as a cautionary tale of the potential downfall that lies in thirsting for the “American dream”.
Mitchell Y. McDeere, raised in the coal-mining region of rural Kentucky, has worked hard to get where he is: third in his class at Harvard Law. He’s young, bright, and ambitious. But most of all, he’s desperate to prove to his skeptical in-laws that he was the right choice for their beautiful and selfless daughter Abbey. His struggle is one that a great deal of newlyweds can most definitely relate to…Mitch could have the pick of the big firms on Wall Street or in Chicago, but he’s chosen the Memphis tax firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke. They’re selective, they pay outrageous salaries, and they have a turnover rate of zero. But soon enough, Mitch is about to find out why. After the deaths of two of the firm’s partners in a suspicious diving accident and Mitch’s realization of the firm’s radical security measures, he does his own digging and makes an explosive discovery. Even as Mitch discovers the truth, he finds himself caught between the FBI and the firm itself, which will make him a very rich man—or a very dead one.

3. Calico Joe

In contrast with his signature suspense thrillers, Grisham’s most recent novel Calico Joe, published in April, has been referred to as a “sweet, simple story”, a fable with a moral by the Washington Post. But make no mistake. Calico Joe features a major unexpected event that surely changes the course of the main characters’ lives. In the summer of 1973, Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas, dazzled Cubs fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records. Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren throws a fastball that will change all of their lives forever…Calico Joe is an initially heartbreaking but later heartwarming story of loss and eventual forgiveness and one of Grisham’s most versatile literary feats.

By Megan Kummer