“The Next John Grisham” and Other Fables
When my first novel, The Last Justice, was released, reviewers and reporters often invoked the name of the king of legal thrillers, John Grisham. I’d like to say that I frowned on the comparison. After all, shouldn’t I, as a debut writer, strive not to be the “next” anything, but instead, an original—the great new voice in the genre?
But the truth is, I was proud of it. Beyond that Grisham is one of the most successful writers of all time, he holds a special place for me. During my first year of law school, the only breaks I recall taking from my Torts and Property textbooks were to escape into the world of The Firm. The movie version came out during my second year and I still smile when I see photos of me and my classmates dressed in our suits for our summer jobs—all of us wearing goofy suspenders like Tom Cruise’s Mitch McDeere.
But after my book came out I wasn’t just proud of my new Grisham-ness, I got a little cocky, highlighting the comparison to friends (or anyone who gave me an opening). That is, until a good friend—the kind of guy you need around when you start to get a little too big for your britches—said, “Don’t they say that about every writer of a great new legal thriller?” He added, “It’s like basketball, the first draft pick always is the ‘next Michael Jordan,’ but there’s still only one Jordan.”
It was one of those comments that didn’t hit me at first. The kind that stays buried in the recesses of the mind waiting to pounce until you’re feeling your most insecure. And so it was, late one night recently, my friend’s words echoed in my ear and I found myself on Google, determined to prove him wrong. I typed “bestselling legal thrillers” and up came Amazon’s list of the top ten legal thrillers. I jumped to the Amazon page of each book. And my friend was wrong.
Not all of the top ten included comparisons to Grisham. Only eight of the ten.
The other two? They both were written by the same writer. An author named, John Grisham …
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ANTHONY J. FRANZE is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice at a large Washington, D.C. law firm and author of the debut legal thriller, THE LAST JUSTICE. In addition to his writing and law practice, he is an adjunct professor of law and has been a commentator for Bloomberg, the National Law Journal, and other news outlets. He also has written for Suspense Magazine and The Big Thrill magazine. Anthony lives in the D.C. area with his wife and three children.
Learn more at http://anthonyfranzebooks.com/