Synopses & Reviews
#1 NEW YORK TIMES
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.
Daring to report the true horrors of the crime, Willie makes as many friends as enemies in Clanton, and over the next decade he sometimes wonders how he got there in the first place. But he can never escape the crime that shattered his innocence or the criminal whose evil left an indelible stain. Because as the ghosts of the South’s past gather around Willie, as tension swirls around Clanton, men and women who served on a jury nine years ago are starting to die one by one—as a killer exacts the ultimate revenge.
In 1970, one of Mississippi’s more colorful weekly newspapers, The Ford County Times,
went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by a 23-year-old college dropout, named Willie Traynor. The future of the paper looked grim until a young mother was brutally raped and murdered by a member of the notorious Padgitt family. Willie Traynor reported all the gruesome details, and his newspaper began to prosper.
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.
About the Author
John Grisham is the author of twenty-three novels, including, most recently, The Litigators; one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and a novel for young readers. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He lives in Virginia and Mississippi.