12 Authors Like John Grisham: Legal Suspense For Your TBR List

Posted on Mar 19, 2024

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John Grisham is a prolific author known for his legal thrillers. He worked as a lawyer for a decade, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. This legal background gives John Grisham’s books dynamic realism, making them immersive and interesting reads.

If you love John Grisham’s books, but have already worked your way through his impressive library of books, you might be looking for some similar writers to get your legal thriller fix! Here are a few authors like John Grisham.

1. Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly is another author known for his legal thrillers and crime novels with complex plots and compelling characters.  While not an attorney himself, Connelly graduated with a degree in journalism before beginning his career as a crime beat reporter in several newspapers, including the LA times. With this experience, his insights into the criminal justice system serve his books in the same way Grisham’s legal experience serves his.

With legal backgrounds, prolific output, strong characterization, and complex, engaging storytelling, Michael Connelly’s books can give you a similar reading experience to John Grisham’s.

Consider starting with The Late Show.

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2. Scott Turow

Another lawyer-turned-author, many of Scott Turow’s novels are thrillers. One key difference between Turow and Grisham is their writing style—Turow’s prose leans more into a literary style, while Grisham’s writing tends to be more plot-driven and straightforward with fast-paced action and suspense. Another difference is the themes they tend to explore. While both heavily involve the legal system, Turow’s novels often delve more into moral ambiguity and the complexities of humans and their relationships. Grisham tends to have more of an underdog-lawyer-fighting-the-system vibe.

Start with his debut novel, Presumed Innocent

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3. Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is a former trial lawyer, which informs her novels exploring the complexities of family dynamics, moral dilemmas, and the challenges faced by women in the legal profession. Scottoline’s writing is known for its humor and heartwarming moments.

Start with: Someone Knows.

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4. Lisa Gardner

Lisa Garder writes psychological thrillers, focusing on complex characters and intense psychological suspense. Her novels look into both the criminals and the investigators, exploring their motives and actions. Her style is characterized by gritty realism, intricate plotting, and meticulous attention to detail. Her usual themes include trauma, resilience, and the nature of evil. She’s also known for her portrayal of strong, flawed protagonists who grapple with their own demons while pursuing the demons of others.

Start with: The Perfect Husband.

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5. Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding writes psychological suspense novels that focus on the intricacies of human relationships and the darker aspects of the human mind. Her characters are often ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, where John Grisham’s characters are typically experts/professionals. Her books explore themes like betrayal, trust, consequences, and family dynamics.

Start with: Cul-de-Sac.

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6. Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is known for gritty crime fiction and psychological thrillers, exploring the darker aspects of human nature and the complexities of interpersonality. Her novels tend to feature graphic violence and intense emotional drama. Her writing style is characterized by its raw intensity, vivid imagery, and unflinching portrayal of violence.

Start with: False Witness.

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7. Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark is known as the “Queen of Suspense” for her prolific output of mystery and suspense novels. Her stories typically involve ordinary people combatting strange and intense circumstances, usually featuring amateur sleuths. She employs clever plot twists and builds suspense that keeps readers guessing until the very end. She often co-writes books with Alafair Burke, who appears later on this list.

Start with: Where Are the Children Now?

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9. Carol Higgins Clark

If you’re looking for a lighter-hearted mystery, Carol Higgins Clark is known for her cozy mysteries, featuring calm settings and humor. Clark’s stories entertain readers with engaging characters and amusement, rather than bone-chilling, chair-gripping suspense.

Start with: Decked.

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10. Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown writes romantic suspense, blending elements of both genres to create a romantic, fast-paced mystery with intense suspense. As you might imagine with the genre-blend, Brown’s stories delve into the complexities of relationships and the darker aspects of human nature.

Start with: Hello, Darkness.

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11. Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is one of my personal favorite authors. She’s known for her dark, twisted psychological thrillers, which often feature unreliable narrators, intricate plots, and shocking twists. Her writing style showcases gritty realism, sharp dialogue, and incredibly nuanced characterizations. Her books are quite an experience to read.

Start with: Gone Girl.


12. Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke is known for crime fiction and psychological thrillers, exploring contemporary issues involved with law enforcement, lawyers, and ordinary people caught up in criminal investigations. She excels at creating suspense by weaving multiple narrative threads together that will keep readers spinning until the ending. Burke’s stories explore issues like gender politics, social media, criminal justice reform, and other such modern issues.

Start with: The Better Sister.

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The great thing about reading is that if you love one author’s books, you’ll likely find piles of others that are comparable to—if not indistinguishable from—your favorites! John Grisham fans will be sure to find something they like on this list. Happy reading!

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