By: Natalie Lorenzo, editorial staff ‘23

 The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham is a breathtaking thriller that encompasses the struggles of two worlds colliding and how innocent and naive childhood can turn into a criminal division. The book pulls readers in by explaining the history of Biloxi, Mississippi, and how it has changed over the years. It encompasses the stories of two different immigrants: one owned a grocery shop turned bar in the midst of prohibition, and one was a teacher turned lawyer. While the first few chapters of the book detail the story of these two immigrants, the book mainly features two boys, Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco, who grew up playing baseball together in Biloxi. While they were very close as children by playing baseball and traveling for the little league series, their family life take very different turns. Their parents are the immigrants that were described earlier in the book: one’s dad is the leader of illicit activities, casinos, and speakeasies whilst the other is a legendary prosecutor. Keith’s dad is determined to “clean up the coast” whilst Hugh’s dad is responsible for most of the criminal doings. Inevitably, one father sends the other to jail and chaos ensues in Biloxi. Keith follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a prosecutor while Hugh works in his father’s criminal underground. When a murder is committed, the former little league teammates are pinned in an intense and gripping legal battle in which many political issues are discussed including the death penalty. 

John Grisham is famous for his legal thrillers, but this book was different from his past work. The Boys from Biloxi, Grisham’s 48th book, has a diverse feel which focuses more on the story of these families rather than just the legal aspects of it. At the same time, Grisham still integrated many courtroom moments into the book to not stray too far from what fans expect. Grisham is more than qualified to write legal thrillers, especially based in Mississippi as he was a lawyer and a former member of the Mississippi district of the House of Representatives. This is Grisham’s second book published this year as, in May, he published Sparring Partners, a collection of three novellas. Any Grisham fan or just a general fan of legal thrillers would certainly rip through the pages of The Boys from Biloxi. Overall this book was worthwhile and an impactful read. It tells the story of two kids who were living simply as baseball teammates, growing up into a prosecutor and a criminal. The inevitable crossing of these storylines made the book suspenseful and gripping with readers guessing at what was going to happen next. In most legal books, the most interesting parts of the book are the characters’ daily lives and relationships outside the courtroom, as the courtroom scenes feature dry legal jargon that, whilst essential to the plot, is hard to get through. The Boys from Biloxi is quite the opposite; the courtroom aspects and personal aspects are equally captivating. Grisham has truly done it again with a book full of dynamic characters, rich with history, and containing a complex version of the light versus darkness storyline.