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The Guardians
Cover of The Guardians
The Guardians
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Terrific . . . affecting . . . Grisham has done it again.”—Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
In the small Florida town of Seabrook, a young lawyer named Keith Russo was shot dead at his desk as he worked late one night. The killer left no clues. There were no witnesses, no one with a motive. But the police soon came to suspect Quincy Miller, a young black man who was once a client of Russo’s.
Quincy was tried, convicted, and sent to prison for life. For twenty-two years he languished in prison, maintaining his innocence. But no one was listening. He had no lawyer, no advocate on the outside. In desperation, he writes a letter to Guardian Ministries, a small nonprofit run by Cullen Post, a lawyer who is also an Episcopal minister.
Guardian accepts only a few innocence cases at a time. Cullen Post travels the country fighting wrongful convictions and taking on clients forgotten by the system. With Quincy Miller, though, he gets far more than he bargained for. Powerful, ruthless people murdered Keith Russo, and they do not want Quincy Miller exonerated.
They killed one lawyer twenty-two years ago, and they will kill another without a second thought.
“A suspenseful thriller mixed with powerful themes.”—Associated Press
“[John Grisham’s] authorial prowess glows again in this riveting tale.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Terrific . . . affecting . . . Grisham has done it again.”—Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
In the small Florida town of Seabrook, a young lawyer named Keith Russo was shot dead at his desk as he worked late one night. The killer left no clues. There were no witnesses, no one with a motive. But the police soon came to suspect Quincy Miller, a young black man who was once a client of Russo’s.
Quincy was tried, convicted, and sent to prison for life. For twenty-two years he languished in prison, maintaining his innocence. But no one was listening. He had no lawyer, no advocate on the outside. In desperation, he writes a letter to Guardian Ministries, a small nonprofit run by Cullen Post, a lawyer who is also an Episcopal minister.
Guardian accepts only a few innocence cases at a time. Cullen Post travels the country fighting wrongful convictions and taking on clients forgotten by the system. With Quincy Miller, though, he gets far more than he bargained for. Powerful, ruthless people murdered Keith Russo, and they do not want Quincy Miller exonerated.
They killed one lawyer twenty-two years ago, and they will kill another without a second thought.
“A suspenseful thriller mixed with powerful themes.”—Associated Press
“[John Grisham’s] authorial prowess glows again in this riveting tale.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
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  • From the book  
                                                                                     1
     
     
     
     
     
         Duke Russell is not guilty of the unspeakable crimes for which he was convicted; nonetheless, he is scheduled to be executed for them in one hour and forty‑four minutes. As always during these dreadful nights, the clock seems to tick faster as the final hour approaches. I’ve suffered through two of these countdowns in other states. One went full cycle and my man uttered his final words. The other was waved off in a miracle finish.
         Tick away—it’s not going to happen, not tonight anyway. The folks who run Alabama may one day succeed in serving Duke his last meal before sticking a needle in his arm, but not tonight. He’s been on death row for only nine years. The average in this state is fifteen. Twenty is not unusual. There is an appeal bouncing around somewhere in the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, and when it lands on the desk of the right law clerk within the hour this execution will be stayed. Duke will return to the horrors of solitary confinement and live to die another day.
         He’s been my client for the past four years. His team includes a mammoth firm in Chicago, which has committed thousands of pro bono hours, and an anti-death penalty group out of Birmingham that is spread pretty thin. Four years ago, when I became convinced he was innocent, I signed on as the point man. Currently I have five cases, all wrongful convictions, at least in my opinion.
         I’ve watched one of my clients die. I still believe he was innocent. I just couldn’t prove it in time. One is enough.
         For the third time today, I enter Alabama’s death row and stop at the metal detector blocking the front door where two frowning guards are protecting their turf. One holds a clipboard and stares at me as if he’s forgotten my name since my last visit two hours ago.
         “Post, Cullen Post,” I say to the dunce. “For Duke Russell.”
         He scans his clipboard as if it holds vital information, finds what he wants, and nods to a plastic basket on a short conveyor belt. In it, I place my briefcase and cell phone, same as before.
         “Watch and belt?” I ask like a real smart‑ass.
         “No,” he grunts with an effort. I step through the detector, get cleared, and once again an innocence lawyer manages to properly enter death row without weaponry. I grab my briefcase and cell phone and follow the other guard down a sterile hallway to a wall of bars. He nods, switches click and clang, the bars slide open, and we hike down another hallway, trudging deeper into this miserable building. Around a corner, some men are waiting outside a windowless steel door. Four are in uniform, two in suits. One of the latter is the warden.
         He looks gravely at me and steps over. “Got a minute?”
         “Not many,” I reply. We move away from the group for a private chat. He’s not a bad guy, just doing his job, which he’s new at and thus he’s never pulled off an execution. He’s also the enemy, and whatever he wants he will not get from me.
         We huddle up like pals and he...
About the Author-
  • JOHN GRISHAM is the author of thirty-three novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and six novels for young readers.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2019

    This just in: a new legal thriller is coming in October from the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author. No word on plot, but eminently purchasable.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 30, 2019
    A lack of nuance mars this novel from bestseller Grisham (The Reckoning), which centers on idealistic attorneys fighting wrongful convictions. Cullen Post, who became a Lutheran minister after burning out as a public defender, is working as a lawyer again in Savannah, Ga., where he runs Guardian Ministries, which helps convicts whose claims of innocence he and his three colleagues, including a man he helped free from incarceration, deem worth investigating. In the first chapter, Duke Russell is minutes away from execution when Post’s request for a stay is granted, giving him time to pursue his belief that Duke wasn’t in fact guilty of raping and murdering a woman 11 years earlier. Guardian Ministries is also seeking to prove that Quincy Miller is innocent of the shotgun murder of his former attorney, Keith Russo, in Seabrook, Fla., and deserves his freedom. Post and his allies diligently attack the flimsy forensic and eyewitness evidence used to convict Miller. A conspiracy subplot related to one of Post’s cases, involving especially sadistic bad guys and an international angle, feels out of place. Readers who like their legal thrillers dosed with ethical ambiguities should look elsewhere. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company.

  • Kirkus

    The prolific Grisham (The Reckoning, 2018, etc.) turns in another skillfully told procedural. Pay attention to the clerical collar that Cullen Post occasionally dons in Grisham's latest legal thriller. Post comes by the garb honestly, being both priest and investigative lawyer, his Guardian Ministries devoted to freeing inmates who have been wrongly imprisoned. Says an adversary at the start of the book, learning that his conviction is about to be overturned, "Is this a joke, Post?" Post replies: "Oh sure. Nothing but laughs over here on death row." Aided by an Atlantan whom he sprang from the slam earlier, Post turns his energies to trying to do the same for Quincy Miller, a black man imprisoned for the murder of a white Florida lawyer who "had been shot twice in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, and there wasn't much left of his face." It's to such icky details that Post's meticulous mind turns: Why a shotgun and not a pistol, as most break-ins involve? Who would have done such a thing--surely not the guy's wife, and surely not for a measly $2 million in life insurance? As Grisham strews the path with red herrings, Post, though warned off by a smart forensic scientist, begins to sniff out clues that point to a culprit closer to the courtroom bench than the sandy back roads of rural Florida. Grisham populates his yarn with occasionally goofy details--a prosecuting attorney wants Post disbarred "for borrowing a pubic hair" from the evidence in a case--but his message is constant throughout: The "innocent people rotting away in prison" whom Post champions are there because they are black and brown, put there by mostly white jurors, and the real perp "knew that a black guy in a white town would be much easier to convict." The tale is long and sometimes plods, especially in its courtroom scenes, but it has a satisfying payoff--and look out for that collar at the end. Fans--and Grisham has endless numbers of them--will be pleased.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (Online Review)

  • Booklist

    October 15, 2019
    Cullen Post works for the Guardian Ministries, a shoestring operation that tries to get wrongfully convicted people out of jail. At the top of Post's to-do list is a Black man, Quincy Miller, who has been in prison for 22 years after being convicted of the murder of his divorce lawyer. But the evidence is shaky at best: the shotgun used in the crime was never found, and a flashlight with a supposed blood spatter disappeared from evidence. Further bolstering Post's case, an expert who testified for the prosecution about the blood spatter on the missing flashlight has since been discredited as a charlatan. Post thinks Miller may have been the fall guy for a drug-cartel hit. The murdered lawyer took minor civil cases to keep up appearances, but his primary moneymaker was the drug cartel. If the cartel can keep the murder pinned on Miller, it's in the clear. Grisham novels have a cinematic feel to them. A Time to Kill (1989), The Firm (1991), and The Rainmaker (1995) have all been successful motion pictures. The Guardians could be next on the list; it's an excellent legal thriller with a strong social-justice component.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Grisham's readers are legion, and they will be prepped for his latest, which finds the perennial chart-topper in great form.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post "Terrific...affecting...Grisham has done it again. Such creative longevity is not that unusual in the suspense genre, but what is rare is Grisham's feat of keeping up the pace of producing, on average, a novel a year without a notable diminishment of ingenuity or literary quality."
  • Fredericksburg Free Lance Star "With his début, 1989's A Time to Kill, Grisham established himself as a skilled storyteller, a writer who can nimbly portray complex characters who overcome their fears and flaws to pursue justice. Thirty years later, his authorial prowess glows again in this riveting tale."
  • Florida Times-Union "[Grisham] has created a powerful no-nonsense protagonist that you cannot help rooting for in a story stocked with tension and flavor that will have you flipping the pages to a very satisfying ending."
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