The Judge's List: A Novel - book cover
Thrillers & Suspense
  • Publisher : Doubleday
  • Published : 19 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 368
  • ISBN-10 : 0385546025
  • ISBN-13 : 9780385546027
  • Language : English

The Judge's List: A Novel

Nonstop suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author: Investigator Lacy Stoltz follows the trail of a serial killer, and closes in on a shocking suspect—a sitting judge.
In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.

Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.

Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.

He is a judge, in Florida—under Lacy’s jurisdiction.

He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list?

The Judge’s List is by any measure John Grisham’s most surprising, chilling novel yet.

Readers Top Reviews

BillMehul DesaiKindl
Like most of Grisham’s books this one was very hard to put down, he is and will remain a favourite author.
I’ve been a Grisham fan for decades and I can hardly believe he wrote this book. He either had a ghost writer or just “phoned it in.” The writing is awful, the characters are one dimensional, and the story is unbelievably bad. Sociopathic serial killer judge who, of course, is so brilliant that he’s stayed out of trouble for over 20 years while he seeks revenge on people who have wronged him. And don’t even get me started on the ending. Give me a break. I couldn’t decide whether to give it one star or two. Don’t waste your time.
Richard Allen
I couldn't put the book down, except to eat supper. Really intriguing plot and finish. Actually will teach about having evidence or dealing with the lack of it.
gsxrRicheyJoanie Dun
I had anticipated that this would be an exciting and tightly written thriller, and I downloaded it a few minutes after it became available, but I was disappointed. This is not a whodunnit, we are told the names of the killer and the principle protagonists from the beginning of this book. It is very slow to develop, and follows predictable plot lines every step of the way. There is virtually no action in this book, very little suspense, no twists, no thrills. About 80% of the way through, the story starts to heat up and becomes briefly entertaining, but that action peaks almost immediately and then the story falls into a continued long and drawn out anti-climax. It ends and I wondered why I spent hours reading this book. I read quite a few and liked Grisham’s earlier novels. I could not get excited about this one at all.
Book Beast
I thoroughly enjoyed this Lacy Stoltz investigation as a stand-alone, so it isn't imperative that you read The Whistler first. This novel has a twisty plot, cleverly executed by a master storyteller, you just can't go wrong with Grisham! This is not some average law drama. In fact, the story gets you out of the confines of a courtroom and keeps you on the run. I also enjoyed the intimacy created around each character, the scene flow, and the changes of POV . . . this will make a great screen adaptation. I was especially tickled that I have either lived in or traveled to the places mentioned. Whether you are a new or longtime fan of legal thrillers . . . I highly recommend this novel, it hooks you right from the start and keeps you guessing. I'd like to thank NetGalley and Doubleday for an advanced copy of The Judge's List for my unbiased evaluation. 5 stars.

Short Excerpt Teaser


The call came through the office land line, through a system that was at least twenty years old and had fought off all technological advances. It was taken by a tattooed receptionist named Felicity, a new girl who would be gone before she fully understood the phones. They were all leaving, it seemed, especially the clerical help. Turnover was ridiculous. Morale was low. The Board on Judicial Conduct had just seen its budget chopped for the fourth straight year by a legislature that hardly knew it existed.

Felicity managed to route the call down the hall to the cluttered desk of Lacy Stoltz. "There's a call on line three," she announced.

"Who is it?" Lacy asked.

"She wouldn't say."

There were so many ways to respond. At that moment, though, Lacy was bored, and she did not wish to waste the emotional energy necessary to properly chastise the kid and set her straight. Routines and protocols were crumbling. Office discipline was waning as BJC spiraled into a leaderless mess.

As a veteran, the veteran, it was important to set an example. "Thanks," she said and punched the blinking light. "Lacy Stoltz."

"Good afternoon, Ms. Stoltz. Do you have a moment?"

Female, educated, no hint of an accent, mid-forties, give or take three years. Lacy always played the voice game. "And to whom do I have the pleasure?"

"My name is Margie for now, but I use other ones."

Lacy was amused and almost chuckled. "Well, at least you're up front about it. It normally takes me some time to work through the aliases."

Anonymous callers were routine. People with gripes about judges were always cautious and hesitant to come forward and take on the system. Almost all feared retaliation from the powers on high.

Margie said, "I'd like to talk to you, somewhere private."

"My office is private, if you'd like."

"Oh no," she snapped, apparently frightened at the thought. "That won't work. You know the Siler Building, next door?"

"Of course," Lacy said as she stood and looked out her window at the Siler Building, one of several nondescript government addresses in downtown Tallahassee.

Margie said, "There's a coffee bar on the ground floor. Can we meet there?"

"I suppose. When?"

"Now. I'm on my second latte."

"Slow down. Give me a few minutes. And you'll recognize me?"

"Yes. You're on the website. I'm in the rear, left side."

Lacy's office was indeed private. The one to her left was empty, vacated by an ex-colleague who'd moved on to a bigger agency. Across the hall an office had been converted into a makeshift storage closet. She walked toward Felicity and ducked into the office of Darren Trope, a two-year man already prowling for another job.

"You busy?" she asked as she interrupted whatever he was doing.

"Not really." It didn't matter what he was or was not doing. If Lacy needed anything, Darren belonged to her.

"Need a favor. I'm stepping over to Siler to meet a stranger who just admitted that she is using a fake name."

"Oh, I love the cloak-and-dagger. Sure beats sitting here reading about some judge who made lewd comments to a witness."

"How lewd?"

"Pretty graphic."

"Any photos, videos?"

"Not yet."

"Let me know if you get them. So, mind stepping over in fifteen minutes and taking a picture?"

"Sure. No problem. No idea who she is?"

"None whatsoever."

Lacy left the building, took her time walking around the block, enjoyed a moment of cool air, and strolled into the lobby of the Siler Building. It was almost 4:00 p.m. and there were no other customers drinking coffee at that hour. Margie was at a small table in the rear, to the left. She waved quickly as though someone might notice and she didn't want to get caught. Lacy smiled and walked toward her.

African American, mid-forties, professional, attractive, educated, slacks and heels and dressed nicer than Lacy, though around BJC these days any and all attire was allowed. The old boss wanted coats and ties and hated jeans, but he had retired two years ago and took most of the rules with him.

Lacy passed the counter where the barista was loafing with both elbows stuck on the Formica, hands cradling her pink phone that had her thoroughly fascinated. She did not look up, never thought about greeting a customer, and Lacy decided to pass on more caffeine anyway.

Without standing, Margie stuck out a hand and said, "Nice to meet you. Would you like some coffee?"

Lacy smiled, shook her hand, and sat across the square table. "No thanks. And it's Margie, right?"

"For now."

"Okay, we're off to a bad start. Why are you using an alias?"

"My story will take hours to tell and I'm not ...