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The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courthouse in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling and dramatic end when the defendant threatened revenge against the jurors if they convicted him. Nevertheless, they found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
But in Mississippi in 1970, "life" didn't necessarily mean "life," and nine years later Danny Padgitt managed to get himself paroled. He returned to Ford County, and the retribution began.
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February is Grisham territory
He's back! Just like the groundhog, mega-best-selling author John Grisham returns every February with a treat for readers suffering through a long, cold winter. Again this year, Grisham has crafted one of the Southern-based, suspense-filled, good-vs.-evil legal thrillers that have kept him at the top of the publishing heap for more than a decade.
Set in Mississippi, The Last Juror introduces us to the unlucky group of men and women who convicted Danny Padgitt of raping and killing young widow Rhoda Kassellaw. The victim's two young children witness the savage attack and hear their mother identify her assailant, a member of Ford County's notorious Padgitt family. The murder and subsequent trial become the talk of the rural Mississippi county. Padgitt is convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but this ruthless murderer somehow manages to get paroled just nine years later. For the members of the jury back home in Ford County, Padgitt's releaseand his determination to get revengeis certainly not good news.
If the Ford County setting sounds familiar, that's because it also appeared in Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill. Published in 1988, the book sold just a few thousand copies and died a quiet death, only to be reborn after the stunning success of Grisham's next book, The Firm. His latest, The Last Juror, is the first to return to Ford County.
Which leads the inquiring minds at BookPage to wonder: will Grisham ever return to other familiar favorites? Will there be a Mitch McDeere sequel, for example? We'd love to find out what happened to Mitch after he outsmarted his fellow lawyers in The Firm and left Memphis and the mob behind. It's unlikely we'll get an answer from the famously private Grisham, so we'll bide our time and savor the latest.
We don't know what the groundhog will find on Feb. 2, but we can tell you that The Last Juror will make its appearance the very next day, going on sale nationally Feb. 3.