Ford County by John Grisham

August 26, 2010

ford county Summary (with spoilers): Author John Grisham, who initially made a name for himself as a writer of legal thrillers, explores the short story genre in Ford County. This book is a collection of seven stories that mostly take place in the fictional town of Clanton, Miss. Only the setting connects the stories — and the fact that many of the characters seem like backwoods rednecks.

The book opens with “Blood Drive”, which I think was supposed to be a humorous look at the misadventures of a group of three men who venture to Nashville to donate blood for a friend who was in a construction accident. They get into a series of bad situations that include shootouts and chases with one of them hanging from the yakima rack on top of the vehicle. Next came “Fetching Raymond” about a family that goes to prison to see their son and brother before he is executed by the state. After that was “Fish Files”, an engaging story about a lawyer who, when a fat settlement essentially fall into his lap, decides to chuck it all — practice, family — and head to South America with the dough.

“Casino”, about a spurned husband who gets the ultimate revenge on his ex-wife’s new lover; “Michael’s Room”, about a lawyer who unexpectedly has to face the consequences of one of his cases; “Quiet Haven”, about a man with a penchant for nursing home scams; and “Funny Boy” about a gay Clanton man who returns from San Francisco to live out his final days as he’s ravaged by the AIDS virus round out the lineup.

Liked:

  • I’ve always thought Grisham is a good storyteller. His work might never appear on a reading list for a college Lit class, but he’s entertaining enough for me.
  • I enjoyed most of the stories, particularly “Fish Files” and “Quiet Haven”. I think the idea of forgetting everything and moving to paradise with a big mound of cash like the protag in “Fish Files” is attractive to most people. And I was intrigued by the scammer in “Quiet Haven”. I knew something was up with him right from the start, but couldn’t figure out his angle until it was spelled out for me.

Disliked:

  • I listened to the audio version of this book, which was read by Grisham himself. His reading was completely flat and BORING! He barely brought any emotion to his own words. I mean, I didn’t figure out that “Blood Drive” was supposed to be a comedy until the very end because Grisham practically read it in a monotone the whole way through. I usually don’t notice readers unless they’re terrible. Grisham was pretty bad.
  • Though I enjoyed the general idea — that of taking the house down — behind the story “Casino”, I have to call bullshit on this kind of thing ever happening for real. Not at Indian casinos, at any rate. Yes, people can count cards and win large amounts of money doing so. But not at Indian casinos, and not when table limits come into play. There’s no way in hell any Indian casino would allow someone to play six hands at $50,000 per. Those are Vegas numbers, not Mississippi numbers.

Rating:

Ford County by John Grisham was a rather enjoyable collection of stories that is worth reading, especially if you’re a Grisham fan. They don’t feature the gripping courtroom drama that Grisham is known for, but the characters and situations are interesting enough to draw you in for a fun weekend of reading. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

Leave a Reply