- The Guardians.
- John Grisham.
- 384 pages.
- Thriller / Legal Thriller.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
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.
Cullen Post is an innocence lawyer and Episcopal priest who works for the small charity and nonprofit organisation Guardian Ministries. Guardian Ministries was founded after a jury convicted an innocent man. Two years after the conviction was exposed as bogus one of the jury, Vicki Gourley sold her company and started Guardian Ministries with the sole purpose of freeing those who have been wrongly convicted, those who are languishing in jail and on death row while the real criminals walk around free and continue living their life. Cullen Post was her first employee. Cullen Post was a criminal defence lawyer who left the profession and became a priest. Whilst he was a priest he met Francois/Frankie Tatum, a prisoner who had been in jail for fourteen-years and who was innocent of the crimes that he was accused of committing. Tatum made Post believe in his innocence and after looking into Tatum’s case Post signed on with Guardian Ministries. Tatum was their first client, their first exonerated client too and since then, over a decade Guardian Ministries have exonerated and proven the innocence of eight wrongly convicted people.
Post and Guardian Ministries take great care in selecting the cases that they choose, working tirelessly and tenaciously to prove the innocence of their clients. The main case in The Guardians focuses on Quincy Miller. In Seabrook, a small town in Florida with a predominantly white population, Quincy Miller, a black man, a minority was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for murdering his former divorce lawyer. For twenty-two years Miller has languished in a jail cell maintaining his innocence and that he had nothing to do with the killing. Post believes him and so, Guardian Ministries accept the case.
Over the course of the story, Post travels many miles, down many roads digging up the past in search of the truth involving the murder. The less I mention about the story the better as it really was gripping to read as the twists and turns unfolded, the past came to light and the truth was revealed.
As the main character, Cullen Post is likeable, driven by and passionate about his cause and a bit of a nomadic loner. Frankie Tatum, who works freelance for Guardian Ministries is another stellar character. There are lots of other characters featured too, some major, some minor, some who appear on numerous occasions and some who appear only very briefly and all play a part in the story.
Alongside the case of Quincy Miller Post and Guardian Ministries are also investing the case of Derek Russell, a man on death row for murder and rape who Post believes to be innocent. There are a few other cases that are briefly mentioned too though the majority of the story and the main focus is on the Miller case. There are an emotional undercurrent and weight found within The Guardians and it is the type of story where you can’t help but feel moved by it. Guardian Ministries is based on a real-life group and while Quincy Miller is a fictional character his case in the story is loosely based on a real-life case. For Miller and for Russell to it is all too easy to imagine that they are both real people and your mind strays to the plight of the thousands of decent and honest people in real life who have been wrongly convicted and/or put to their death often abandoned, forgotten by their friends, their family and with no-one who cares about them. In The Guardians Cullen Post and Guardian Ministries care and that is their mission, to right the wrongs, to fight the good fight and to exonerate those who have been wrongly convicted.
The quality shines through in The Guardians. Grisham is an established author, a veteran and it shows in his writing which is highly accomplished. The writing is straightforward, to the point with no over embellishment and there is a finesse to the style, strength to his words and confidence to his storytelling. The Guardians is a disturbing and suspenseful look at the commonplace corruption, the inherently broken US legal system, the prevalent miscarriages of justice that occur, the terrible plight of those who have been mistakenly incarcerated and the blinkered views, the loose morals and the abuse of power of those good ol’ boys in charge.
When reading thrillers I tend to gravitate towards psychological thrillers and those with a hint of the supernatural to them and so, with The Guardians I found myself stepping slightly outside of my comfort zone and delving into a legal thriller. It was also my first Grisham book, it won’t be my last and I’m now a fan of his work. I found The Guardians to be addictive, fast-paced, gripping and a skilfully told and powerful story.
I believe that The Guardians is a standalone book. However, I would definitely read more stories featuring Cullen Post and Guardian Ministries in the future.
Purchase The Guardians by John Grisham.
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