The Judge's List
October 27, 2021

Book Review

The Judge's List

reviewed by Aravind



Meet His Honor Ross Bannick—distinguished judge, charming gentleman and a vengeful serial killer! For more than two decades, Bannick has been killing people—each in a different state, and each murder a perfect crime that has eventually grown stone cold.

Where law enforcement agencies have failed, a private citizen named Jeri Crosby has doggedly pursued the judge’s trail and has compiled a list of His Honor’s victims over the years, one of whom is her own father. Unfortunately, all she has to connect these murders with Bannick is only motive and method, which is never enough to interest the Police or the FBI. But, there is one agency that is bound by the law to investigate the judge, if only Jeri could muster the courage to file a complaint.

Lacy Stoltz, a twelve-year veteran with the Board on Judicial Conduct, Florida—an understaffed, under-resourced agency that investigates misdemeanors of sitting judges—is pushing forty and has to take some important decisions soon if she wants to rejuvenate her career, and her life. Barring the deadly battle with a crime syndicate while investigating a corrupt judge three years ago, the scars of which she still carries, her job has ceased to excite her anymore.

When Jeri finally approaches Lacy with her allegations, Lacy is skeptical; a sitting judge being accused of murder is something entirely unheard of in the nation’s judicial history. But Jeri’s persuasion wins and Lacy takes up the case. Severely unequipped to handle such a complicated murder investigation, and unable to involve the mainstream agencies for fear of alerting the judge, Lacy walks a tightrope to ascertain in secret the merits of Jeri’s complaint. The devious judge has his own means of monitoring the murder investigations and soon gets wind of Lucy’s probe. Somebody is on his trail for the first time in twenty-plus years and—simultaneously thrilled and scared—Judge Bannick plans to neutralize the threat before it could take him down.

The Judge’s List by John Grisham—one of the greatest storytellers of our time—hooks the reader immediately with its premise of a serial killer judge and keeps up the grip until the very end. The plot moves forward smoothly, at precisely the right pace, narrated in Grisham’s simple yet engaging prose. The characters—both the major and the minor ones alike—are well crafted and their interactions are entertaining, especially the ones between Lacy and her brother, Gunther. Judge Bannick is sure to be remembered for a long time by readers for his patience and brilliance, and his extreme efforts to avoid getting caught. The ending, while not wholly satisfactory, is unique and feels realistic. As always, I wanted the pages of The Judge’s List to move both fast and slow at the same time—fast, so I get to know what happens in the end quickly, and slow, to let me enjoy Grisham’s storytelling for a bit longer. Some repetition at places and a few unneeded sequences are the only issues—minor ones at that—with this engrossing tale.

The Judge’s List is yet another proof of Grisham’s supreme ability to delight his readers and I wish he keeps doing it again and again!

My sincere thanks to Doubleday Books for the review e-copy in exchange for my honest review!

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