Ford County

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 July, 2010, 12:00am

Ford County
by John Grisham
Orion, HK$104

You thought John Grisham had achieved everything there was to achieve in his literary career? Well, Ford County is another notch on his writing desk - the short story collection. Fans will note the title with joy - Ford County (more precisely, Clanton in Mississippi) is the setting of his debut, A Time to Kill. The seven tales in Ford County present goodness and evil rubbing shoulders and creating sparks. They also make me wonder whether Grisham is having something of a mid-life crisis: the collection can be subtitled 'The Grey-Haired Loser Strikes Back'. Fish Files is a tight if contrived twist on the con-man tale: a small-time lawyer hoodwinks clients and family alike out of big money. Casino is pleasantly twisty: a card-sharp beats the system to retrieve his life, wife and pride. Other stories feel distinctly unlike Grisham. Blood Drive is shaggy dog story meets southern Gothic: three young idiots on the way to donate blood are derailed by booze, strippers and the police. Just as intriguing is Funny Boy: a young man dying of Aids returns home to Clanton and encounters both prejudice and love. Ford County is enjoyable, even if it only scratches the surface.