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The Boys from Biloxi


The Boys from Biloxi

John Grisham once again proves himself to be not only a bestselling and an award-winning writer, but also clairvoyant. Recently the nation learned of a growing scandal in Mississippi. Well-known public figures and politicians are alleged to have improperly used state funds for private benefit. It is believed that they diverted money earmarked for the poor to construct a volleyball facility on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. One of the participants in these plans is purported to have been NFL legend and Mississippi resident Brent Favre.

Enter John Grisham with his 48th book, THE BOYS FROM BILOXI. It just happens to be set in Mississippi and focuses on the criminal activities of many in that state. Timing can be everything.

"...a page-turning and compelling reading experience.... When you reach the final page of a John Grisham novel, you immediately start to wonder when his next book will be released and where it will take you. THE BOYS FROM BILOXI is no exception."

The novel centers on two lifelong friends whose lives intersect on numerous occasions. One is the son of a local prosecutor, the other is deeply entwined in the criminal underworld. Eventually they will find themselves pitted against each other as the worlds of law and lawlessness collide. It is quintessential Grisham as he weaves a story with numerous plot twists and turns, introducing readers to his beloved South and his favorite subject for his novels: the law.

Many novelists rely on recurring characters, familiar locations or redundant plots. Not Grisham. His books defy categorization. While most have legal themes, he also has written sports tales, political adventures and mysteries. On one occasion he penned the true crime account of an Oklahoma man who was wrongly convicted of murder. Having read every book of his, I can testify to the fact that each title, regardless of setting and characters, is enjoyable and entertaining. THE BOYS FROM BILOXI, though unique in its own way, is a page-turning and compelling reading experience.

Best characterized as a saga novel, it spans decades, beginning before World War II and ending in Mississippi in the mid-1980s. While fiction, there are many recognizable real-life events here, and Grisham acknowledges at the conclusion of the novel that a number of Mississippians contributed to this work with reminiscences and stories.

While Mississippi certainly is known as a conservative, religious, Bible-supporting state, the Biloxi area has long been known for its alcohol, gambling and other sordid activities. They are built upon a foundation of criminal conduct, and in the South it led to organized crime known as the Dixie Mafia. In this environment, Grisham tells the story of two families --- the Rudys and the Malcos --- both of whom traced their roots as immigrants and the divergent paths their lives took until they faced a final confrontation in a Mississippi courtroom.

There are crooked politicians and police officers, crusading attorneys and judges. There are battles against insurance companies that believe that premiums are better used for profit than for assisting the insured. And there are some of the traditional plot twists that Grisham loves to employ. His courtroom scenes are always vivid and true to the law. On occasion there might be a little traveling beyond accepted legal boundaries, but it only serves to advance the story.

When you reach the final page of a John Grisham novel, you immediately start to wonder when his next book will be released and where it will take you. THE BOYS FROM BILOXI is no exception.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on October 19, 2022

The Boys from Biloxi
by John Grisham

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 059346950X
  • ISBN-13: 9780593469507