Two days after the release of John Grisham’s latest book, “The Judge’s List,” this week, the author of bestselling thrillers will speak to attendees of a virtual conference hosted by the Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport and to collect funds for it. .
The book comes out Tuesday, and the library will be hosting a virtual chat with John Grisham from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $ 50, and that includes a link to the event and a copy of the book with an ex-libris signed by Grisham. For tickets and details visit gravelibrary.org.
The event was hosted by mutual friends from Grisham and the library, Billy and Rosemary Shore, who live part of the year in Kennebunkport. The Shores have worked with Grisham and his wife, Renee, on fighting hunger and other humanitarian issues, including helping feed desperate families along the southern border of the United States.
During the pandemic, the Shores spent most of their time in Kennebunkport, said Billy Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, the parent organization of the No Kid Hungry campaign. They’ve been involved in several organizations and initiatives, including the Fire Department, where he volunteers, and the Library, where Rosemary Shore recently joined the board.
âThe library has always been important to our family, and during the pandemic it has become a lifeline for so many people,â he said. “We wanted to help, and when I thought about what we could do, I immediately thought of John.”
Describing the library as “one of the gems of the community” and the heart and soul of Kennebunkport, Rosemary Shore emailed Grisham to ask if he would consider helping the library raise funds.
âHe responded in a minute and said he would be delighted,â said Rosemary Shore. âJohn and Renee are so genuinely committed to whatever they’re committed to, without attribution. They don’t seek attention at all. With them, you feel like what matters to them matters to them. C It’s so encouraging that people can be as good as they seem, when their selves backstage is as good as they are on stage.
Library director Mary-Lou Boucouvalas called it “a huge blow to the whole community” to get Grisham to agree to talk about her life and work. âLike many readers, I’ve been a fan since the publication of ‘A Time to Kill’ in 1989,â she said.
She loves Grisham because he writes what she calls âthe tabletop pounderâ – a book so good it hits the table with intense authority and approval. With âA Time to Kill,â she said, âI started with the pounding and without even realizing it I jumped up and started hitting the air in triumph.â¦ Mr. Grisham is the master at authenticating legal thrillers in such a way that one can hardly wait for the next book to hit libraries and bookstores everywhere.
For “The Judge’s List”, Grisham brings back the character of Lacy Stoltz, which he featured in 2016 in “The Whistler”. In this one, Lacy was looking for the wrong judges in Florida. In the new book, she pursues a judge suspected of being a serial killer.
Grisham, 66, writes one book a year. He starts each new project on January 1 and ends it in July or August, always tied to a fall release. He has written dozens of books over more than three decades, including more than 20 as New York Times bestsellers. He is credited with inventing the genre of legal thriller with âThe Firm,â which became a movie starring Tom Cruise. Several of his books have been made into feature films – “The Chamber”, “The Pelican Brief”, “The Rainmaker” and others.
But those days are long gone, Grisham said in a telephone interview from his home in Virginia. âIt was a wonderful time which I thought would last forever. But this is not the case.
Through his writings and the platform of his fame, Grisham has advocated for those on death row and against mass incarceration, and worked as part of Project Innocence to help free those wrongly convicted.
Now, the author of thrillers about lawyers, judges, and an often corrupt legal system, worries about the integrity of this country’s real legal system with the continued infusion of politics into the courts.
A former legislator in a Democratic state of Mississippi and a sitting lawyer, Grisham is concerned that Donald Trump’s administration has caused long-term damage to federal justice by appointing unqualified judges.
âI am concerned because over the past four years there have been so many Federal Judges appointed to the bench for life who are so young and will be around for a long time who have not been tested and donât have not been proven. That doesn’t mean they won’t do well. It means they are not qualified, âGrisham said.
âThe last administration was very aggressive in getting Conservative judges appointed and approved. What happened with the Supreme Court, we all know that story. We continue to see a shift to the right, a seismic shift to the right, because of this yard. They are conservatives and they will be around for a long time. That bothers me.
Despite his deep concerns about the politicization of the legal system, he is optimistic about the possibility of tangible change.
âBefore the last administration, we were seeing movements on both sides. People on the left are annoyed by mass incarceration and human rights issuesâ¦ and people on the right have complained about the cost to our states of running correctional systems, and they are tired of paying for it â , did he declare. âI am optimistic that the two sides will work together for meaningful reform of the criminal justice system. “
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