In 1970, The Ford County Times, one of Mississipi's more colourful weekly newspapers, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by 23-year-old college drop-out, 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. Traynor ...
In 1970, The Ford County Times, one of Mississipi's more colourful weekly newspapers, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by 23-year-old college drop-out, 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. Traynor reported all the gruesome details, and his newspaper began to prosper. The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courtroom in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling, 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.
This is the story of Willie Traynor, a 23 year old college dropout who buys the bankrupt weekly newspaper he is working for with $50,000 he borrows from his wealthy grandmother. The story is entertwined with the rape and murder of a local young widow by a young man by the name of Danny Padgitt, and with a black family by the name of Ruffin who saw all eight of their children become professional men and women and move away from Mississippi where this story takes place. The time is the 1970's. Danny Paggitt comes from a large family of thugs who own an island, and use it like a fortress. They are into all kinds of illegal activities. Danny is convicted of the crimes, but not sentenced to death. He gets life in prison instead--a big controversy. When he is convicted, he threatens to kill all the jurors upon his release from prison. In 1970, in Mississippi, life inprisonment means at least 8 years in prison. This is a great story about how all these people live together during those 8 years and the year after Danny gets out of prison, when the jurors begin to be murdered, and above all, its the story of a young man making good as an editor and owner of the only paper in town.
Nov 17, 2007
A very gripping book set in a small town in Mississippi. There are stories within stories and you can't help liking the characters as you learn more about them. I highly recommend this book for people who like a good mystery.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-02-02 Grisham has spent the last few years stretching his creative muscles through a number of genres: his usual legal thrillers (The Summons, The King of Torts, etc.), a literary novel (The Painted House), a Christmas book (Skipping Christmas) and a high school football elegy (Bleachers). This experimentation seems to have imbued his writing with a new strength, giving exuberant life to this compassionate, compulsively readable story of a young man's growth from callowness to something approaching wisdom. Willie Traynor, 23 and a college dropout, is working as a reporter on a small-town newspaper, the Ford County Times, in Clanton, Miss. When the paper goes bankrupt, Willie turns to his wealthy grandmother, who loans him $50,000 to buy it. Backed by a stalwart staff, Willie labors to bring the newspaper back to health. A month after his first issue, he gets the story of a lifetime, the murder of beautiful young widow Rhoda Kasselaw. After being raped and knifed, the nude Rhoda staggered next door and whispered to her neighbor as she was dying, "Danny Padgitt. It was Danny Padgitt." The killer belongs to an infamous clan of crooked highway contractors, killers and drug smugglers who live on impregnable Padgitt Island. Willie splashes the murder all over the Times, making him both an instant success and a marked man. The town is up in arms, demanding Danny's head. After a near miss (the Padgitts are known for buying themselves out of trouble), Danny is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. As he's dragged out of the courtroom, he vows revenge on the jurors. Willie finds, to his consternation, that in Mississippi life doesn't necessarily mean life, so in nine years Danny is back out-and jurors begin to die. Around and through this plot Grisham tells the sad, heroic, moving stories of the eccentric inhabitants of Clanton, a small town balanced between the pleasures and perils of the old and the new South. The novel is heartfelt, wise, suspenseful and funny, one of the best Grishams ever. (Feb. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2004-05-03 Longhaired 23-year-old college dropout Willie Traynor purchased a bankrupt Mississippi newspaper, The Ford County Times, in the 1970s. With his progressive attitude and his British Spitfire car, he stands out in small town Clanton, where people "don't really trust you unless they trusted your grandfather." As editor and publisher, Willie's eyes are opened to many issues, including corrupt politics, the impact of segregation, the role of religion in a small town and the war in Vietnam. His scoop of a lifetime comes, however, with the brutal rape and murder of a young widow. Danny Padgitt, a member of a secluded family of drug runners and bootleggers notorious for buying the law, receives a life sentence for the crime, but he's released only nine years later. Shortly thereafter, jury members begin to die. Reader Beck has come far since his starring gang leader role in the 1979 film The Warriors. Now, he's Grisham's primary reader and for good reason. His southern accent suits the story well, and his flawless first-person telling is utterly convincing. Particularly fun is the voice he lends Clanton's friend Harry Rex; one can almost hear the ever-present unlit cigar moving from side to side as he speaks. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 2). (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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