The Boys from Biloxi ~ by John Grisham

It’s a good thing I haven’t finalized my list of best books of 2022 yet. This one is going on there! 

 John Grisham is BACK!!!  He seemed to be kind of on vacation for a few years  during the 2000s, I read those books with his name on them and enjoyed them, but they were barely above okay. There seemed to be something missing. With The Boys from Biloxi there is nothing missing.  Nothing. It’s all there including his opposition to the death penalty,  

The Boys from Biloxi
by John Grisham
2022 / 
Read by Michael Beck – 17h 22m
Rating A++ / Legal crime thriller –  

It’s a totally fascinating book about two men and their sons from very different families in Biloxi, Mississippi.  These boys, both children of immigrants, grow up as close friends, but then go their separate ways after high school, each following in the steps of his own father. One goes the way of owning strip and gambling clubs along the coast there, while the other very conscientiously peruses the law and becomes the District Attorney in Biloxi Mississippi.  The story plays out from late 1960s and early ’70s through 1984.   

The book seriously fictionalizes the “Dixie Mafia” with roots in Biloxi, Mississippi (Grisham’s home turf).  But it’s still steeped in history- just without naming names or places, etc. That said, Grisham has outlined how a group of general bad boys gains power, gets “organized,” and comes up against a good guy lawyer named Jesse Rudy who is determined to clean up the Gulf Coast. The book is more about the sons of Jesse Rudy and Lance Malco than anyone else. Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco were very close friends and played football together on the Biloxi high school team back in 1960. But times changed. 

I’ve enjoyed John Grisham’s books since the early 1990s and his were some of the first I listened to but on my old Sony Walkman. With this book it took me awhile to get into it, but then something happened and whoosh!  I was hooked.  There’s not a whole lot of car-chasing or gun-slinging shoot-outs, but after a rather slow and more cerebral build the threads connect and sparks fly into a blaze. And the bad guys are running or laying low while the good guys are getting court cases and witnesses together as quick as they can.  It’s a darned good book!  

Thematically it gets to be about capital punishment, a regular subject in Grisham’s novels from as early as The Chamber. Grisham is a very moral type of guy and is adamantly opposed to the death penalty.  “John Grisham: ‘There are tens of thousands of innocent people in prison and you don’t believe it because you’re white’” (great article – May, 2022) 

It’s Jesse Ruby and son Keith versus Lance Malco and his son, Hugh. The tension is pitch perfect as the chapters and sub-chapters alternate between and within “sides.” Each side has a line-up of people lined ready to help him.  I had to take notes to keep the characters straight.  

It’s certainly a thriller with plenty of twists and turns plus high-drama courtroom action.  Grisham is a pro – a good-guy pro – and in my opinion he’s at his peak  

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2 Responses to The Boys from Biloxi ~ by John Grisham

  1. Keith says:

    Becky, thanks for the tip on its release. Do you like non-fiction as much? I am reading “And in the end” about the final several months of The Beatles. Very interesting, if you are a fan. Keith


    • Yes, as an early-ish Boomer of course I was a fan of the Beatles – LOL! (I was 15 years old when they hit my local “sock hop.”) My late hubby was a fan forever and my son also picked up on some later music (Ebony and Ivory). And yes, I read quite a number of non-fiction books each year but sometimes I’m stumped for “what next?” So “And In the End” is now on my Wish List – thank you!


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