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The List

Ranking Grisham books, from best to worst

It is said that nothing is certain but death and taxes.

I have another one for you: An annual book authored by John Grisham, usually of the legal thriller variety, usually released at the beginning of the year.

Perhaps that’s why the most recent Grisham novel, “Gray Mountain,” is one of the worst he’s written. It was released in October last year. “Gray Mountain” is one of those very rare Grisham books that has no compelling plot – or, rather, no plot – and no interesting characters. It also was one of the very few times I’ve struggled to finish a book by Grisham.

I consider Grisham to be a sort of guilty pleasure of books that I read. Yes, there are authors I read who are technically better at their craft. Yes, Grisham’s plots and characters can be a bit repetitive.

But the guy writes page-turners. A Grisham book is a palette cleanser best served after having slogged through a dense, wordy novel.

I’ve read all of Grisham’s 27 novels but one, “Playing for Pizza,” published in 2007. It was not a legal thriller, and the premise of a former NFL quarterback trying to hang on in the Italian Football League just, well, didn’t sound appetizing.

I also have not read Grisham’s short stories collection, “Ford County,” published in 2009, or his lone nonfiction book, “The Innocent Man,” published in 2006. I’ve always meant to read the latter, which was given rave reviews; I just never have.

Oh, I also haven’t read any of Grisham’s 5-book Theodore Boone series for kids.

Like many great artists, John Grisham’s best works were his first, “A Time to Kill” in 1989 and “The Firm” in 1991. But some of his more recent books, “The Confession” in 2010 and “Sycamore Row” in 2013, are also among my favorites. And the non-legal-thriller “Calico Joe” in 2012 – c’mon, it’s about a former pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs! – is high on that list, too.

Here, then, is my list of John Grisham books, ranked 1 through 26:

1. “A Time to Kill” (1989)

2. “The Firm” (1991)

3. “The Confession” (2010)

4. “The Last Juror” (2004)

5. “The Testament” (1999)

6. “Sycamore Row” (2013)

7. “The Runaway Jury” (1996)

8. “Calico Joe” (2012)

9. “Skipping Christmas” (2001)

10. “Pelican Brief” (1992)

11. “The Brethren” (2000)

12. “A Painted House” (2001)

13. “The Associate” (2009)

14. “The Rainmaker” (1995)

15. “The Partner” (1997)

16. “The Summons” (2002)

17. “The Racketeer” (2012)

18. “The Chamber” (1994)

19. “The Street Lawyer” (1998)

20. “The King of Torts” (2003)

21. “The Client” (1993)

22. “The Broker” (2005)

23. “The Litigators” (2011)

24. “The Appeal” (2008)

25. “Gray Mountain” (2014)

26. “Bleachers” (2003)

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