The Guardians by John Grisham
My Own Copy ~ Hardback book
He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle.
22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.
The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.
Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.
But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.
My Review ~
I absolutely adore legal thrillers. I also find the American justice system so much more fascinating than here in the UK. Any novel which has the theme of ‘miscarriage of justice’ or ‘death row’ instantly grab my interest. I immediately purchased this from the local supermarket and devoured it in one weekend.
A potential miscarriage of justice, a life sentence without parole, racial injustice and building tension. GET IN MY SHOPPING TROLLEY!
The novel does surround the case of Quincy Miller in a crime that took place 22yrs ago. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of divorce lawyer Keith Russo. He was convicted in a largely all white town, the jury was tainted from the get go and evidence was lost/misplaced. Quincy Miller never stood a chance!
‘It’s fairly easy to convict an innocent man and virtually impossible to exonerate one’
However, before the novel gets into Quincy’s case, we learn about Cullen Post an innocence lawyer and former preacher. We learn of the work he does at the innocence project. Who he will and won’t appeal cases for and the type of man he is. Cullen is a intriguing character and one I hope to read more of in the future.
There are backstories in the form of Cullen’s other cases. This is where you will meet other prisoners and some of them accused of heinous crimes. Are they innocent? That is for Cullen to prove. When we first meet Cullen he is consulting on a violent rape and murder conviction. The convict Duke Russell already has his execution scheduled. Can Cullen save his life and prove him innocent? Or is this simply too much to ask for one man?
‘Clemency for Mr Russell is therefore denied’
As we follow Cullen in his investigations into Quincy’s case (and various other sub-characters). We learn it is not only the fight for innocence that drives Cullen but the desire to see justice for the real predators out there enjoying their freedom while someone else does their prison time.
Quincy Miller’s case is complex. It involves a messy divorce, kids that don’t know he exits and jailhouse snitches. Even if Quincy Miller is innocent, he is going to need god on his side to get free. In walks Cullen Post a former preacher and unique man with a personal quest for justice and balance in the world.
‘For twenty-two years he has maintained his innocence, but no one is listening’
Whilst Quincy has a theory on who and why someone set him up. It is going to take heaven and earth to get the people from his past to admit they lied under oath, if they so did lie. But Cullen Post has a plan…
‘Very few women are criminals. Their mistakes are picking bad boyfriends’
Along the way we meet other convicts such as Shasta Briley and Gerald Cook. They bring added depth to the legal novel and that is what make John Grisham the king of the genre. There are multiple thought-provoking scenes and moments to pause and reflect. I will leave you with this quote, which is my personal favourite within the novel…
‘Prison is a nightmare for those who deserve it. For those who don’t it is a daily struggle to maintain some level of sanity’ ~ 4.5*