Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ford County

Earlier this year I read John Grisham's first novel A Time to Kill, a story about what constitutes justifiable homicide after a hate crime has been committed. The story took place in Ford County, a backwoods corner of Mississippi battling many of the same issues and racial divides from the 1960s and 1970s. The townfolks mostly consisted of simple, hardworking laborers. A corner of the U.S. relatively isolated from outside influences and pure of any big-city attitudes. It is in this setting that Grisham returned to explore just a bit more with a series of short stories in his 2009 book, Ford County. The collection included seven tales that filled in more details of the people and the places that fit in well with the Ford County that we had already come to know.
  • Blood Drive - Three young rednecks set out on a roadtrip to help out a friend who was in accident. Their goal is to give blood to help save his life. However, their addictions and desires sidetrack them. Plus, it turns out, they really don't know much about their so-called friend.
  • Fetching Raymond - An aged mother and her two grown sons go to visit her third son, who is serving a life sentence for killing a local deputy. It is only upon their arrival at the prison do they come to understand that he is hours away from his execution by gas chamber.
  • Fish Files - A small time lawyer gets an unexpected payout from a company on a nearly forgotten lawsuit. He pockets a large sum of money and chooses to leave his old, boring life behind.
  • Casino - An accountant's wife leaves him because he has gotten far too set in his boring ways. Sitting in a casino to distract his thoughts, he learns that he has an uncanny talent for blackjack. Suddenly a player is born.
  • Michael's Room - A lawyer who years ago successfully defended a doctor from a lawsuit brought by the family of a boy born with severe birth defects comes face to face with how each of his court room arguments to discredit the family were wrong.
  • Quiet Haven - A con artist has honed a scam to bilk money out of retirement homes. When he gets his payout, he moves on. Along the way he also plays the elderly, befriending those without heirs so that he can take their money.
  • Funny Boy - A local boy with AIDs comes home to die. His appearance and their fears of the unknown has the whole town talking and railing against him.
A great way to spend a few nights, even if you have never read A Time to Kill. A well written set of works that are engaging not because of unexpected shocks or plot twists or drama, but because of the attention to detail of his plot descriptions and his characters.