John Grisham is a master of legal thrillers; his novels have captured the attention of millions of readers, from adults to teens. In three decades he has written nearly one book per year and a number of those have been adapted into popular movies.
From his debut novel "A Time to Kill" to the 2017 release of "Camino Island," Grisham's books are nothing short of captivating. Over the years, he branched out from legal stories as well. His complete list of published books includes stories about sports as well as non-fiction. It's a compelling body of literature and if you've missed one or two books, you'll definitely want to catch up.
Lawyer Turned Best-Selling Author
John Grisham was working as a criminal defense attorney in Southaven, Mississippi when he wrote his first novel. "A Time to Kill," based on an actual court case that dealt with racial issues in the South. It enjoyed modest success.
He entered politics, serving in the state legislature on the Democratic ticket and began writing his second novel. It was not Grisham's intent to leave law and politics to become a published author, but the runaway success of his second endeavor "The Firm" changed his mind.
Grisham quickly became a prolific best-selling author. In addition to novels, he has published short stories, nonfiction, and young adult books.
Grisham Captures Mainstream Readers From 1989-2000
Few new writers have exploded onto the literary scene like John Grisham. "The Firm" became the top-selling book of 1991 and was on The New York Times bestseller list for nearly 50 weeks. In 1993, it was made into the first of many movies based on Grisham's novels.
From "The Pelican Brief" through "The Brethren," Grisham continued to produce legal thrillers at the rate of about one per year. He tapped into his experience as a lawyer to create characters who faced moral dilemmas and dangerous situations.
During the first decade of his work, he produced several novels that were eventually made into major big-screen films. These include "Pelican Brief" in 1993; "The Client" in 1994; "A Time to Kill" in 1996; "The Chamber" in 1996; and "The Rainmaker" in 1997.
- 1989 - "A Time to Kill"
- 1991 - "The Firm"
- 1992 - "The Pelican Brief"
- 1993 - "The Client"
- 1994 - "The Chamber"
- 1995 - "The Rainmaker"
- 1996 - "The Runaway Jury"
- 1997 - "The Partner"
- 1998 - "The Street Lawyer"
- 1999 - "The Testament"
- 2000 - "The Brethren"
Grisham Branches Out From 2001-2010
As the best-selling author entered his second decade of writing, he stepped back from his legal thrillers to examine other genres.
"A Painted House" is a small town mystery. "Skipping Christmas" is about a family that decides to skip Christmas. He also examined his interest in sports with "Bleachers," which tells the story of a high school football star returning to his hometown after his coach dies. The theme continued in "Playing for Pizza," a story about an American playing football in Italy.
In 2010, Grisham introduced "Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer" to middle school readers. This book about a kid lawyer successfully launched an entire series centered around the main character. It introduced the author to younger readers who are likely to become lifelong fans.
Also in this decade, Grisham released "Ford County," his first collection of short stories and "The Innocent Man," his first nonfiction book about an innocent man on death row. Not to turn his back on his dedicated fans, he rounded out this time with several legal thrillers as well.
- 2001 - "A Painted House"
- 2001 - "Skipping Christmas"
- 2002 - "The Summons"
- 2003 - "The King of Torts"
- 2003 - "Bleachers"
- 2004 - "The Last Juror"
- 2005 - "The Broker"
- 2006 - "The Innocent Man"
- 2007 - " Playing for Pizza"
- 2008 - "The Appeal"
- 2009 - "The Associate"
- 2009 - "Ford County" (short stories)
- 2010 - "Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer"
- 2010 - "The Confession"
2011 to Present: Grisham Revisits Past Successes
Following the success of the first "Theodore Boone" book, Grisham followed up with five more books in the popular series.
In "Sycamore Row," a sequel to "A Time to Kill," Grisham brought back protagonist Jake Brigance and key supporting characters Lucien Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner. He continued his policy of writing one legal thriller a year and threw in a couple of short stories and a baseball novel called "Calico Joe" for good measure.
Grisham's 30th book was released in 2017 and titled "Camino Island." Another intriguing crime novel, the story centers around stolen F Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts. Between a young, enthusiastic writer, the FBI, and a secret agency, the investigation tries to track down these handwritten documents on the black market.
- 2011 - "Theodore Boone: The Abduction"
- 2011 - "The Litigators"
- 2012 - "Theodore Boone: The Accused"
- 2012 - "Calico Joe"
- 2012 - "The Racketeer"
- 2013 - "Theodore Boone: The Activist"
- 2013 - " Sycamore Row"
- 2014 - "Gray Mountain"
- 2015 - "Theodore Boone: The Fugitive"
- 2015 - "Rogue Lawyer"
- 2016 - "Partners" (a "Rogue Lawyer" short story)
- 2016 - "Theodore Boone: The Scandal"
- 2016 - "Witness to a Trial" (a digital short story)
- 2016 - "The Whistler"
- 2017 - "Camino Island"