Looking for authors like John Grisham? Check out our list of authors that you’re likely to enjoy below.
The characters in Grisham novels typically represent a noble hero with a singular, unwavering focus on delivering justice. The attorneys in his books are often sleuths, going far beyond the normal call of duty to ensure a just outcome. Innocent characters in danger are often treated with a high degree of empathy, making it nearly impossible not to root for them.
His settings vary, but few authors make small town crime come to life on the page like John Grisham.
Grisham came by his reputation as the gold standard for legal thrillers honestly. He started his career working long hours as an attorney in a Mississippi firm. He wrote his first novel, A Time to Kill, in the small windows of time between going to the office and courtroom recesses. Years later, his books have sold over 300 million copies. He has written 28 consecutive number one bestsellers.
If you’re waiting for the next Grisham book, you’ll love some of these books by other great legal thriller authors.
A Killer’s Wife by Victor Methos
A compelling legal thriller that will have you turning the pages well into the night.
Victor Methos, author of An Invisible Client (one of our picks for the Best Legal Thriller Books of the Century So Far), is back with a bone-rattling read just in time for summer.
A Killer’s Wife is the story of prosecutor Jessica Yardley, who has rebuilt her career and personal life in the years since her husband, Eddie, was put away for mass-murder.
A new wave of murders suggests that Eddie’s murderous ways have continued although he’s still behind bars.
Could he be pulling the strings from prison, or is a copycat killer on the loose?
The FBI asks Jessica to get involved, which means sitting down with the man who tore her life apart. Those scenes are by far the book’s best, as Methos once again proves why he’s one of the most empathetic and emotionally charged writers in the business.
While most of the book’s best suspense doesn’t take place in a courtroom, the book should appeal to fans of legal thrillers and crime fiction in equal portions.
As a protagonist, Jessica is extremely well-drawn, and anyone with a crazy ex will find her aspirational.
They Money by David Shawn Klein
A superb, action-packed legal thriller with a heart of gold.
Defense attorney Henry Krakow has made a career out of representing small time clients living on the fringe. Most don’t pay, and when they do, it’s often via questionable means. His wife Olivia is a moneyed high-powered public relations executive who is no longer enchanted with Henry and his seeming lack of ambition and unwillingness to take the corporate job she helped him land.
Henry would love nothing more than to reignite his marriage and win back Olivia.
So when one of Henry’s favorite down-on-his luck clients, a middleweight boxer and single father supporting two kids, needs Henry’s help to convince the boxing commission to let him fight an upcoming match despite concerns over brain injury, Henry is determined to help him find another way to get the money. And, most importantly, he hopes that his noble cause will win back Olivia.
But as Krakow himself notes in the novel, “Hope has a mean right.” When Henry meets a sketchy Ukrainian national who offers to pay handsomely for a “simple” delivery of a package, Henry sees a path to helping the boxer get back on his feet and winning over Olivia in the process. But It’s not long before things take a wrong turn and Henry is soon caught up in the underworld that he once only knew from the sidelines.
Attorney-turned-author David Klein has a knack for writing intricate characters that are so well drawn up you can almost smell their breath, quite literally (“His mutinous teeth gave rise to a shroud of herring, onion, and Winstons”). But fans of legal thrillers fear not: Klein’s deft hand at drawing his characters is never at the expense of the plot, which is fast-paced but imbued with great heart.
Cheater’s Game by Paul Levine
A razor-sharp, rollicking legal thriller that deftly transforms the college admissions scandal into a hugely entertaining crime story.
As Cheater’s Game opens, 20-year-old Kip Lassiter races his Tesla X through the Florida Everglades with twenty-five thousand dollars in cash hidden under the back seat. Soon, a Maserati pulls up alongside him, and two masked goons threaten Kip by name before forcing the Tesla into a canal.
When Kip wakes in the hospital, his uncle, legendary defense attorney Jake Lassiter, is there to question him. How did he wreck? How could he afford such an expensive car? And why has Kip, whose probation terms should have prevented him from leaving the country, been to the Cayman Islands five times in recent weeks?
Kip brushes off his uncle’s questions, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s charged with selling admissions slots at the nation’s most prestigious universities to the parents of rich kids.
When Jake decides to come to his nephew’s defense, he puts himself at the epicenter of a nationwide scandal. He also finds himself squarely in the crosshairs of some very powerful people. But as Jake says, “If there’s blood on the courtroom floor, let it be mine.”
Author Paul Levine, whose novel Solomon vs Lord (Volume 1) was named one of the Best Legal Thrillers of the 21st Century, is again firing on all cylinders. The book’s success has everything to do with the richness with which Levine has drawn Jake. A veritable quote machine (a favorite: “A criminal trial is a contact sport. I buckle my chin strap and hit somebody”), Jake’s banter is equally addictive in the courtroom or at home with fiancée Melissa. His ongoing battle with C.T.E., as a result of his football career, adds unusual depth, making him among the most compelling protagonists in the legal thriller genre.
Characterization aside, Cheater’s Game stands out for its rapid-fire plot, where everything from the car chases to the courtroom scenes seem to move at high velocity.
Justice Burning by Scott Pratt
Scott Pratt’s anti-hero Darren Street isn’t particularly likable, but that’s vigilante justice for you, and the book is no less riveting for it.
Former defense attorney Darren Street is desperately trying to put his life back together after spending two years in a maximum-security prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He’s rebuilding his law practice, reconnecting with his son, and falling more deeply in love with his girlfriend, fellow attorney Grace Alexander.
But the past casts a long shadow, and for Street, there’s no outrunning it.
Tormented by nightmares and violent mood swings, Street is seeking treatment for PTSD when a new trauma shakes his world: his mother is killed in an explosion, but the police believe Street was the intended target.
Payback from an old enemy, or the calling card of a deadly new foe? Whoever’s behind it, Street begins to lose his grip on reality and decides to take matters in his own hands. And the law won’t stop him from revenge.
Justice Burning isn’t necessarily a slam dunk for fans of Pratt’s straight-ahead legal thriller Joe Dillard series, but for every one else, it’s a great entry to Scott Pratt’s many talents.
Blood Defense by Marcia Clark
Samantha Brinkman, an ambitious, hard-charging Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, is struggling to make a name for herself and to drag her fledgling practice into the big leagues.
It promises to be exactly the kind of media sensation that would establish her as a heavy hitter in the world of criminal law.
Though Sam has doubts about his innocence, she and her two associates (her closest childhood friend and a brilliant ex-con) take the case.
Notorious for living by her own rules—and fearlessly breaking everyone else’s—Samantha pulls out all the stops in her quest to uncover evidence that will clear the detective.
But when a shocking secret at the core of the case shatters her personal world, Sam realizes that not only has her client been playing her, he might be one of the most dangerous sociopaths she’s ever encountered.
Killer Deal by Karen S. Gordon
A ripped-from-the-headlines legal thriller that John Grisham fans will love.
Conspiracy theories about the untimely death of a Supreme Court justice draw attention to the West Texas dude ranch where he died. When attorney Vance Courage and his business partner Lauren Gold purchase the ranch to launder a large sum of dirty money, they soon discover that the rumors may be warranted.
The ranch’s previous owner was a highly decorated U.S. Army Captain who, before his death, was locked in a not-so-secret campaign to use the legal system to curb the power of the world’s five largest technology companies. And not long after Vance and Lauren’s arrival at the ranch, another suspicious death is reported. This time, the victim is the ranch’s longtime head of housekeeping, who was certainly the killer’s loose end.
As the duo launch an investigation, they discover that the property is routinely used by some of the world’s most powerful lawmakers and titans of industry. The question isn’t so much who had a motive for murder, but who didn’t?
Strictly speaking, Killer Deal isn’t a traditional legal thriller. After all, Vance may be an attorney (and former detective), but he’s also a money launderer. Even so, the book’s thoroughly satisfying exploration of how corporations attempt to use the courts as a business strategy is meaty enough to warrant admiration from fans of John Grisham and Scott Pratt.
In addition, readers may recall that real-life justice Antonin Scalia also died at a West Texas dude ranch, and those following the story will relish the opportunity to help solve this alternate universe version of events.
As a whodunnit, author Karen S. Gordon succeeds wildly, delivering a whopper of a surprise in the book’s third act that few readers will see coming. Along the way, Vance and Lauren’s (mostly platonic) chemistry is enjoyable, although readers may want to check out the first Gold & Courage series book for the detailed lowdown on how they ended up as partners. With that said, the book works well as a stand-alone. Highly recommended.