Prather’s Pick: Collaboration nets page-turner of a novel
One thing is sure. When you pick up a novel by James Patterson, you just have to keep turning the pages. “Juror # 3,” this week’s featured novel, is no exception. It was written by Patterson and Nancy Allen and published by Grand Central Publishing (2018).
As the novel begins, the reader finds Darrien Summers working as a waiter at the country club in Williams County, Mississippi, where the annual Mardi Gras ball is underway. Darrien was a football player at Arkansas State, but he got sidelined with a knee injury. Then, he “got busted” for possession of a joint, his scholarship was suspended, and now, he’s a waiter.
Darrien asks the club manager if he can go on break; then, he heads for Cabana 6, where Jewell Shaw is waiting for him. Jewell is the daughter of one of the club’s founding members in Rosedale, Mississippi. In this town, white women don’t mix with the black help at the country club. However, Jewell is a “wild child.” Darrien is black.
The door to the cabana is slightly ajar, so Darrien goes right in. He finds Jewel lying on a chaise lounge. At first he thinks she is passed out, but Jewell is dead.
Now, Darrien has been charged with murder. Enter Ruby Bozarth, a lawyer who has just opened her practice in Rosedale. She has never tried a felony case or had felony trial experience and certainly never had experience defending a black man on a murder charge in William County. Judge Baylor assigns the case to Ruby.
Ruby’s office is in a Ben Franklin building. She shops at a thrift store. She can use the money, but the trial is set to begin in 12 days! There’s a lot of investigating to do, and Ruby has never even been inside a jail before. She gets help from Suzanne Greene, who has a law license to practice in Mississippi. She’s a relative of Ruby’s ex-fiance, Lee Greene.
Lee Greene shows up later in the novel. Other major characters of interest are District Attorney Thomas Lafayette and Shorty, of Shorty’s Diner.
The trial gets started with jury selection. The jury is predominately white. Ruby has bad feelings about Juror #3, and she’s right. The trial is very different, indeed, and the reader will just keep turning the pages to learn the outcome.
However, there’s more to the novel that the trial. There’s a second murder, and the reader gets to meet Lee Greene.
I really like the novel.
Patterson holds the Guinness World Record for the most “New York Times” bestsellers, and his books (a wealth of them) have sold more than 380 million copies. His novels for middle school ages are also very popular.
Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University.
I reviewed the paperback version of this book, which costs $15.99.
“A Long Time That I’ve Loved You,” this week’s picture book for children was written by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of “Goodnight Moon,” published in 1947 — a classic in children’s literature. The illustrations for this week’s book, done by Kate Hudson, are breathtaking.