10 Best John Grisham Books to Read in 2023

John Grisham is probably the greatest legal thriller writer ever to exist. His novels are known to keep you hooked right from the first chapter and provide a thrilling journey full of twists and turns. If you're looking to get into the works of John Grisham, knowing his best books might help you set a starting point. In this article, we'll break down the best John Grisham books.

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Our top 5 recommendations for the best John Grisham Books

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John Grisham ☍ is without a doubt one of the greatest writers ☍ this generation has ever seen. He is primarily known for his legal thriller novels ☍. Apart from these, he’s also written mysteries ☍, humor novels ☍, a series for children ☍, and non-fiction.

Initially, John Grisham was an attorney and Mississippi legislator ☍ for almost ten years before he became a world-renowned writer. He rose to fame in 1989 when he released his first novel A Time To Kill ☍. Following this, he released another book titled The Firm ☍. This was a jumping-off point for his career.

John Grisham wrote novels such as The Rainmaker ☍, The Pelican Brief ☍, Sycamore Row ☍, and many more. John has written 23 back-to-back bestseller novels. While some featured recurring characters, he also wrote standalone books.

John has also won awards such as the Galaxy British Book Award ☍ and has had his novels turned into blockbuster films. His novel The Firm ☍ was most notably made into a film in 1993 starring Tom Cruise. A Time To Kill ☍ was also turned into a movie in 1996.

John Grisham is probably the greatest legal thriller writer ever to exist. His novels are known to keep you hooked right from the first chapter and provide a thrilling journey full of twists and turns.

If you’re looking to get into the works of John Grisham, knowing his best books might help you set a starting point. In this article, we’ll break down the best John Grisham books.

Looking for more great book reviews ☍ ? Check out all our articles on this topic.

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Top 10 John Grisham Books 

John Grisham has written some of the best genre-defining books since he began his career in the late ’80s. Let’s take a look at some of his best works.

A Time to Kill: A Jake Brigance Novel
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
The life of a ten-year-old black girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless white men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime—until the girl’s father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own hands.
A Time To Kill Best John Grisham Books

His 1989 legal thriller titles ‘A Time To Kill’ and it’s arguably his best work. Initially facing publishing issues, it was mass published upon the success of John’s second novel, ‘The Firm.’ It went on to become of the greatest works of his career and even spawned a 1996 Hollywood feature film.

This novel focuses on the racially divided town of Clanton, Mississippi, and the rape of a young African-American girl. The main plot delves into how the victim’s father decided to take revenge against his daughter’s rapist.

It also highlights some of the prominent racial discrimination issues that were prevalent in the ’80s. It was also the first time readers got introduced to Jake Brigance, a lawyer. This character has since reoccurred in 2 more of Grisham’s novels.

It is probably Grisham’s best work as it’s his first. Its 672 pages discuss the themes of racial discrimination and injustice along with a gripping storyline that will surely keep you hooked. The social commentary offered in this novel is still highly relevant and insightful.

That is the best place to start should you want to dive deep into John Grisham novels.


The Firm

The Firm: A Novel
Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought that he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired the McDeeres a decorator. Mitch should have remembered what his brother Ray–doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail–already knew: You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice–if he wants to live.
Firm Novel John Grisham info

‘The Firm’ is a legal thriller released in 1991. It was John’s second release and is the novel that got him widespread popularity. Following the success of ‘The Firm,’ John’s first novel ‘A Time To Kill’ was re-released.

Our protagonist is Mitch McDeere, a recently graduated law student who gets employment in a tax firm in Memphis, Tennessee. His company gifts him an expensive BMW, pays off his student debt and arranges a mortgage for him. All of this sounds too good to be true.

Soon Mitch starts getting suspicious and discovers that his company is involved with gangs and corruption. That puts his life in danger, and the novel explores how Mitch gets himself out of this mess and sets things right.

Following the success of the novel, it was made into a feature-length film in 1993. Tom Cruise played the lead character of Mitch McDeere. It also featured Holly Hunter, Gene Hackman, and Ed Harris.

While this book is highly gripping and is a thrilling ride overall, it’s one of Grisham’s longest novels. It has a length of 544 pages and will surely grip you for days on end.


The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief: A Novel
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
In suburban Georgetown, a killer’s Reeboks whisper on the floor of a posh home. In a seedy D.C. porno house, a patron is swiftly garroted to death. The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief.

To Darby Shaw,
it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment, it’s political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder–a murder intended for her.
Pelican Brief Novel John Grisham info

‘The Pelican Brief’ is a 1992 legal suspense thriller novel. It is the third book of John Grisham’s career and followed the hit books ‘A Time To Kill’ and ‘The Firm.’ Most critics applauded the book for being thoroughly entertaining despite recycling tropes and stereotypes.

The novel follows Darby Shaw, a young law student at Tulane University. When the murder of two Supreme Court justices takes place, Darby uncovers the reason for these murders. She soon finds her life in danger and is forced to go on the run. 

She teams up with Gray Grantham, a Washington Post reporter, to uncover this conspiracy and bring the perpetrators to justice. But, how far are these two willing to go to bring the truth to light?

This novel also had a direct-to-tv film adaptation which starred Julia Roberts as Darby Shaw and Denzel Washington as Gray Grantham.

It is one of John Grisham’s most thrilling books with a gripping narrative and suspenseful plot. Its 496 pages will surely keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow these characters risk their lives to uncover the truth.  


The Rainmaker

John Grisham’s five novels — A Time To Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and The Chamber — have been number one best-sellers, and have a combined total of 47 million copies in print.
The Rainmaker: A Novel
Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
Grisham’s sixth spellbinding novel of legal intrigue and corporate greed displays all of the intricate plotting, fast-paced action, humor, and suspense that have made him the most popular author of our time. In his first courtroom thriller since A Time To Kill, John Grisham tells the story of a young man barely out of law school who finds himself taking on one of the most powerful, corrupt, and ruthless companies in America — and exposing a complex, multibillion-dollar insurance scam.
Rainmaker Novel John Grisham info

‘The Rainmaker’ was originally published in 1995 and was John Grisham’s sixth novel ☍. It received positive reviews from both critics and readers. While some found its plot predictable, the characters and their motivations make this novel so endearing.

The plot follows Rudy Baylor, a fresh Memphis Law School graduate. Upon losing his job at a small law firm, Rudy is forced to work at a local bar. Very soon, Rudy finds himself representing a low-income family in their dispute against an insurance company.

As the situation unravels, Rudy finds himself fighting one of America’s largest and most powerful insurance companies. His case could potentially expose a multi-billion dollar insurance scam and win his clients millions of dollars. But does he win?

‘The Rainmaker’ was another one of John Grisham’s novels that were made into a film ☍. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starred Matt Damon in the lead role. It also stars Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, and Jon Voight in various supporting roles.

It is one of the most accessible reads of John Grisham’s long career and is 434 pages long. The novel is particularly unique as it is written entirely in the simple present tense. ‘The Rainmaker’ is a simple but very unique and exciting read.


 The Partner

The Partner: A Novel
Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
Once he was a well-liked, well-paid young partner in a thriving Mississippi law firm. Then Patrick Lanigan stole ninety million dollars from his own firm—and ran for his life. For four years, he evaded men who were rich and powerful, and who would stop at nothing to find him. Then, inevitably, on the edge of the Brazilian jungle, they finally tracked him down.
Partner Novel John Grisham info

This 1997 legal thriller novel is John Grisham’s eighth novel. Critics and readers gave it mixed reviews ☍. Some found the storyline and final act extremely thrilling and bitter-sweet, while some considered the cynicism remorseless. A few readers also disliked the ending as it didn’t end on a high note.

The novel follows Patrick Lanigan, who is a well-paid lawyer working in a Mississippi law firm. Upon learning about his exclusion from an illegal scheme of millions of dollars, Patrick hatches a plan. He steals 90 million dollars and goes on the run in South America.

Soon he is tracked down and send back to America. He must now defend himself in the state, civil, and federal courts. Will he be able to get his freedom and reunite with the love of his life? That’s a question that the book will answer.

This book is gripping and leaves the reader eager to know what happens till the very end. It is a little under 500 pages and will indeed hook you immediately. Even if you’re not a fan of courtroom thrillers, you will surely enjoy this read.


Sycamore Row

John Grisham returns to the iconic setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill, as Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a controversial trial that exposes a tortured history of racial tension.
Sycamore Row (The Jake Brigance)
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
Seth Hubbard is a wealthy white man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and defense attorney Jake Brigance into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. 
Sycamore Jake Brigance John Grisham info

‘A Time To Kill’ was an exceptionally well-received book with a gripping plot and a memorable protagonist. Jake Brigance returns in the 2013 novel ‘Sycamore Row.’ The story takes place three years after ‘A Time To Kill’ in the fictional town of Ford County.

Seth Hubbard, a wealthy man, is dying of cancer and decides to commit suicide. However, before taking his own life, he writes and sends his will to Jake Brigance for execution. Jake is instructed to carry out the will no matter what.

Seth’s will instructs that a large portion of his wealth will go to his black maid and not his children. What follows is a legal mess that shocks the bigoted and racist community of Ford County.

‘Sycamore Row’ explores similar themes of racism and bigotry ☍ as were seen in ‘A Time To Kill.’ John Grisham also brings back a beloved protagonist in this thrilling and captivating legal thriller. In addition, you get to see Jake Brigance at his finest with an all-new story.

If you like ‘A Time To Kill,’ you will enjoy ‘Sycamore Row.’ It’s one of John Grisham’s best books, and it will keep you captivated for all of its 642 pages.


 The Last Juror

The Last Juror: A Novel
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
In 1970, Willie Traynor comes to Clanton, Mississippi, in a Triumph Spitfire and a fog of vague ambitions. Within a year, the twenty-three-year-old finds himself the owner of Ford County’s only newspaper, famous for its well-crafted obituaries. While the rest of America is in the grips of turmoil, Clanton lives on the edge of another age—until the brutal murder of a young mother rocks the town and thrusts Willie into the center of a storm.
Last Juror Novel John Grisham info

John Grisham loves writing legal thrillers ☍. His most famous novels are almost all in this category. ‘The Last Juror’ is a 2004 legal thriller novel and is short yet gripping. Having almost 500 pages makes it a simple and quick read for most readers.

‘The Last Juror’ is set in 1970’s Clanton, Mississippi. The plot revolves around Willy Traynor, who is a young newspaper businessman. The murder of a young mother shocks the entire town, and Willy gets increasingly embroiled in the murder case and the subsequent trial.

Nine years after the trial is over, the jurors who convicted the murderer start getting murdered one by one.

The recurring theme of racism and discrimination are present in this novel. While providing commentary about societal structure, ‘The Last Juror’ also provides a thrilling mystery that keep you guessing till the last chapter.

The novel is divided into three parts ☍. The first covers the trial of Danny Padgitt, the second focuses on Willie adjusting to life in Clanton, and the third includes the main event, the murder of the jurors. This book, in some places, feels a bit unrealistic, but it isn’t a significant drawback.


A Painted House

A Painted House: A Novel
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers—and two very dangerous men—came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world. A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion.
Painted House Novel John Grisham info

While some of the best John Grisham books have been legal thrillers, ‘A Painted House’ showcases his versatility as a writer. John’s childhood in Arkansas heavily influences this 2001 book. It is also his first significant book outside the legal thriller genre.

The book follows Luke Chandler, a young 7-year-old boy whose family is into cotton farming. When a young man named Hank is murdered, Luke is the only witness to the event. The book reveals how things go downhill from here.

It is one of Grisham’s finest works. He can tell a story through the perspective of a 7-year-old boy and can grip you and keep you interested. The plot also depicts a coming-of-age story. Luke goes from being a boy who lives in a world of innocence to living in the harsh realities of life.

This book has a page count of 480 and will grip and entertain you. It is a view into John’s childhood and is one of his most unique works. If you want to read a non-legal thriller book by John Grisham, ‘A Painted House’ is an excellent book to visit.


 The Testament

The Testament: A Novel
Mass Market Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions—a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives. Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.
Testament Novel John Grisham info

‘This Testament’ is one of John Grisham’s adventure thriller novels. It was published in 1999 and was a different kind of read for many people. The story features a lawyer, but it isn’t one of the usual John Grisham legal thrillers.

The story begins with Troy Phelan rewriting his will. He is an angry and eccentric man who is on the verge of passing away. Troy’s new will gives all of his riches and wealth to a lady who no one knows and not his family.

It is where Nate O’Riley comes into action. He is an alcoholic, and workaholic lawyer tasked with finding this mystery woman. The only problem? She is somewhere in the jungles of Brazil. The novel follows Nate O’Riley in Brazil on his hunt for this mystery woman.

‘The Testament’ is one of John’s most exciting novels and measures 560 pages. After writing back-to-back legal thrillers, this adventure story was a new and thrilling ride for the readers. It is undoubtedly one of the best books by John Grisham.


The Broker

The Broker: A Novel
Paperback / Hardcover / Kindle / Audiobook
In his final hours in office, the outgoing President grants a controversial last-minute pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. What no one knows is that the President issues the pardon only after receiving enormous pressure from the CIA. It seems that Backman, in his heyday, may have obtained secrets that compromise the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system.
Broker Novel John Grisham info

‘The Broker’ is a 2005 political thriller novel by John Grisham. Events of the novel take place in America and Italy. Most critics were thrilled by the story, but some believed the inaccurate depiction of Italy took away from experience.

The story follows Joel Backman, who is a Washington power broker. He has been in federal prison for six years until one night, he’s given a full pardon by the president. He’s then flown to Italy to start a new life under a new name.

As it turns out, Joel has information about a satellite surveillance system. He has been sent to Italy as a set up by the CIA to find out who built this complex surveillance system. The book follows Joel and his bid to stay alive.

This political thriller is one of John Grisham’s bestselling books. It is a thrilling ride that will keep you on edge at all times. Most political thriller books can’t you’re your attention for long. But, ‘The Broker’ in its 448 pages will keep you entertained.

John Grisham Books | Legal Thriller Novels| Recommendations and Review (Suspense Novels)


Let’s discuss some of the frequently asked questions about John Grisham’s books.

What Are The Best John Grisham Books?

John Grisham, while being a versatile writer, excels are writing legal thrillers. He is a veteran of this genre, and his first couple of books all focused on this genre. His writing was gripping, entertaining, and kept the audience wanting more.

Some of his best books are:
A Time To Kill
The Firm
The Pelican Brief
Sycamore Row
The Partner

Which John Grisham’s Books Were NY Times Bestsellers?

John Grisham has written more than 30 books in a career spanning four decades. He rose to popularity with his initial three books, and his fame and success just kept growing.

John Grisham has had 28 consecutive New York Times Bestselling novels under his name. In addition, his books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide. All of John Grisham’s thriller novels mentioned in this list have been New York Times Bestsellers.

Apart from these, almost all his thriller novels have been New York Times Bestsellers at some point or another. If you’re looking for a series for children in their early teens, Grisham has written a bestselling series titled ‘Theodore Boone.’

Final Thoughts

John Grisham has been one of the most genre-defining writers of this generation. His career has given us legal thrillers, political thrillers, and mystery novels. His versatility is also seen in his children’s novels and humorous novels.

John Grisham’s novels are written to keep you hooked and entertained. While many might follow similar tropes and stereotypes, the storyline is always gripping and suspenseful.

John has always made it a point to talk about social issues through his writing. Many novels based in the profound South comment on people’s racial discrimination and bigoted mindset in those areas.

Picking up a John Grisham novel will surely entertain you and keep you on the edge of your seat.

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