Grisham's New Pitch

Why the king of best sellers abandoned fiction for a true story of blood and baseball

On a side street in the small, leafy university town of Charlottesville, Va., there is an unassuming door with a buzzer next to it marked Oakwood Books. It doesn't look like much--it's next door to a mini-mall--but behind it is an enterprise that earns in the neighborhood of $20 million annually. Its sole asset fits in a comfy chair at a red-leather-covered conference table. The asset is good-natured and at ease with himself. With his smooth Southern accent, listening to him talk is like sniffing bourbon.

The asset's name, of course, is John Grisham, author of relentlessly satisfying legal thrillers. There...

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