I continue to admire John Grisham. He has a startling ability to keep you turning the pages, to make you want to read ‘just one more chapter’ until your eyelids droop and you can’t keep the words in focus anymore.
A lot of it’s pacing. He never repeats an incident; something new is always happening. You’re drawn in to his stories because while you’re taking in A, he’s onto B, and by the time you’ve absorbed that, C is approaching. There’s no attempt at ‘beautiful’ prose; he’s not asking you to admire his way with words. Every characters sounds the same (although the dialogue they speak is crisp and snappy; he’s got a good ear). He’s telling you what happened, as simply and as directly as he can.
This is all on display in The Partner. But there’s something else, something that might look easy (because it reads so easily) yet definitely isn’t. The story starts with a lawyer being kidnapped and handed over to US authorities. It then jumps to the man who organized the kidnapping before slipping sideways to tell you about the lawyer’s accomplice, all of which is mixed in with the lawyer’s lawyer cutting a deal for his client. Jump about in time as it does, with a complete picture emerging piece by piece, the reader always knows what’s happening. It should be anything but simple and direct, but that’s absolutely the way it reads. And that really impresses me.