This is the 2nd book in John Grisham’s Lacy Stoltz series which started in 2016 with The Whistler. That book introduced Stoltz and her cohorts. Then, also in 2016, Grisham published the short story “Witness to a Trial” as a prequel to The Whistler and it gives the background on the criminal gang involved. Now we have The Judge’s List which continues with the Lacy Stoltz series. Wanting to get on with the series I read “Witness to a Trial” about 30 minutes before starting The Judge’s List.
The Judge’s List
By John Grisham
2021 / (359 pages)
Read by Mary-Louise Parker 11h 36m
Rating: A++ / mystery – legal thriller
The young and ambitious Lacy Stoltz works at the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct where she investigates complaints about misbehavior by state judges. One day a woman contacts her and demands a rather unusual meeting but Lucy agrees. Jeri Crosby (aka Margie) is so nervous she can barely cooperate because the person she is trying to report is a murderer as well as a judge. Her suspicion is that this man murdered her own father in 1992 and others before and more since. z
Jackie has been obsessively researching this ever since and is scared the focus of her investigation is aware of her. She’s ready to file a report with the right people but the police and the FBI won’t go near it. So she finds the BJC and Lacy.
This is a page-turner for sure. Yes, there’s a slower seeming middle section, but it’s only maybe a couple chapters. It’s a thriller for sure. Grisham is a master of tension building.
In places it’s also more gory than is usual for Grisham. But he’s been changing for years so I suppose this might just be a 21st Century version of Grisham’s original stories published in the early 1990s which were mostly legal thrillers (and the reason I’m so fond of that sub-genre). I would put this on a par with his early work and that’s a high bar.
“He’s smarter than we are, Lacy, and he’s always watching.” The judge was brilliant, thorough and patient.
That said, it’s not perfect. The story stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit in places. Ross Bannick, the bad guy, and Jeri, the good guy, become almost mythical in their abilities. But it’s still terrific, Bannick and Jeri remain compelling as all the main characters do.
There have been complaints about the narrator, Mary-Louise Parker, but to me she was great and enhanced the tale. It may take a chapter or so to get used to her.
I have no clue if there will be another book in the series or not. I hope so.