By JESSIE SMITH
Arkansas is home to a long tradition of craftsmanship. From blacksmiths to musicians, from the nationally-renowned to local heroes, from ye olde days to the present, Arkansas is proud of all the creators who have drawn inspiration from her mountains, forests and rivers over the years.
Arkansas makes a cameo in John Grisham’s latest novel, The Guardians. Originally from Jonesboro, Grisham is a lawyer-turned-bestselling-author, and his legal expertise shines through in the courtroom drama and detective aspects of his works.
From the outside, The Guardians looks like a typical detective mystery in which a lawyer unravels a cold case from over 20 years ago in order to free his client who was wrongly imprisoned for the murder.
The actual murderers are still alive and well, so the lawyer encounters a little more danger and urgency than his usual cases. However, Grisham takes his story a step further, for the novel also explores the flaws of the American legal system.
The protagonist works for an innocence ministry, which solely seeks out clients who have been wrongly imprisoned in order to free them, and the lawyer constantly indicts a court system that frequently convicts innocent people and sometimes even sends them to death row.
Grisham also looks into how race can so often play a factor in how easily an innocent person can be sent to prison. The Guardians makes for a suspenseful detective story from the perspective of a lawyer, but the real emotional core of the story lies in a careful look at the legal system in the American South.
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