(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In this novel, characterization seems to be subordinate to plot. That is, with one exception (discussed below), the characters do what the plot demands of them to keep the plot moving. By necessity as a lead conspirator, Marlee is calculating and demanding in her dealings with Fitch. Nicholas trains himself to appear bland on the exterior, but such blandness is part of his scheme to be so nondescript that he will be put on the jury with other bland people. Once on the jury he becomes clever and resourceful as he weasels his way to become the leader. What stands out about him are his machinations. In his narration, Grisham usually remains outside both their minds. Readers see what they do but usually must induct how they think, what is behind each ruse they pull. Thus what impresses about them is their skill at the arts of conspiracy and psychological manipulation. Marlee succeeds with Fitch by appearing greedy; Nicholas succeeds with the jury by appearing personable and knowledgeable.

In contrast, Fitch emerges as a colorful character despite his plainly apparent villainy. Grisham frequently gets into his head, so he is not mysterious, as Nicholas and Marlee may seem. When Fitch and Marlee negotiate, Grisham relates Fitch's thoughts as the conversation runs, but remains silent on Marlee's mind. In Chapter 32, Grisham writes, "Fitch was reeling while appearing cool and calm. How much should he tell her? His instincts said to be cautious." The irony here is...

(The entire section is 556 words.)