12 Best Authors Like John Grisham for Legal Thriller Lovers

Looking for a new legal thriller to devour? Check out the best 12 authors like John Grisham in our guide for a page-turning adventure.

When it comes to legal thrillers, John Grisham’s books frequently top the best in the genre lists. Born in 1955, Grisham worked in the Mississippi House of Representatives and served as a lawyer. He draws on this personal knowledge of the legal and political worlds to write his books.

Grisham had a somewhat slow start to his writing career with his first book, A Time to Kill. It did not sell many copies, but he was hooked on writing and went on to write The Firm, his first bestseller, which became a Tom Cruise film in 1993. He also has a series for young adults following kid lawyer Theodore Boone. Today, he has 47 consecutive number-one bestsellers on his list and is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. He has sold 300 million copies of his books around the world.

1. David Baldacci

David Baldacci
David Baldacci via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

David Baldacci is known for his legal thrillers. Born in 1960, he published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. It was an instant success and became a Clint Eastwood movie not much later.

He has published 47 novels for adults and seven for young readers and books in over 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold. Interestingly, Baldacci holds a law degree from the University of Virginia and uses that knowledge to help him write his thriller books.

If you enjoyed our guide to the authors like John Grisham, we have many more articles on the best legal thriller authors. Check out our round-up of the best Alistair MacLean books. If you want to explore our selection of the best authors from different genres, you can search “best authors” from our search bar.

“People like to talk about other people’s misery; it makes them feel their own life is somehow better when it usually isn’t.”

David Baldacci
Absolute Power
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 704 Pages - 01/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Vision (Publisher)

2. Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Born in 1956, Michael Connelly started writing while attending the University of Florida, where he majored in journalism. When beginning his writing career, Connelly published a magazine story on a major airline crash and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. This earned him a job for the Los Angeles Times, and eventually, he started writing novels, starting with The Black Echo. He has 37 novels and one non-fiction book with over 80 million copies sold and has created two memorable characters, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, both the subject of his series books.

“There was more silence and Bosch pictured his partner on the other end of the line in a $900 suit and a bankrupt frown.”

Michael Connelly
The Black Echo (A Harry Bosch Novel, 1)
  • Connelly, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 04/25/2017 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

3. Scott Turow

Scott Turow
Scott Turow via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Scott Turow is a best-selling author of legal thrillers that Grisham fans will love; with various novels to choose from, Turow has novels available in over 40 languages with 30 million copies published worldwide. Turow was born in 1949 and worked as a lawyer, he puts his legal knowledge into his books, and several have been made into films. One of the most famous is The Burden of Proof, which he published in 1990 and became a film in 1992.

“But Dixon had once been a soldier. He knew that courage was not the absence of fear but the ability to carry on with dignity in spite of it.”

Scott Turow
The Burden of Proof
  • hardbound
  • Hardcover Book
  • Turow, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages - 06/05/1990 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Publisher)

4. Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline
Lisa Scottoline via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Lisa Scottoline has a wide selection of books, including historical fiction, humorous non-fiction, short story anthologies, and legal thrillers. Her Rosato & Associates and Rosato & DiNunzio series are some of her most famous. Scottoline was born in 1955 and wrote fictional columns on women’s issues for The Philadelphia Inquirer along with her daughter. Look Again and Don’t Go are two books that reached the number two spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

“She’s only human. Don’t judge her. Just love her.”

Lisa Scottoline
Don't Go
  • Scottoline, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 03/04/2014 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Griffin (Publisher)

5. Steve Martini

Born in 1946, Steve Martini is a well-known legal and political thriller writer. After working in law, Steve Martini transitioned to working in the legislature. Using this experience, he tapped into this knowledge when he started writing fiction books in 1984. His first book, Compelling Evidence, introduced Paul Madriani, his main character, which became a national bestseller and launched him into the list of best crime thriller authors.

“Born leaders don’t fit the corporate mold, that I was destined for bigger things than hitching my wagon to someone else’s star.”

Steve Martini
Compelling Evidence
  • New
  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noon
  • Guaranteed packaging
  • No quibbles returns

6. William Bernhardt

William Bernhardt
William Bernhardt via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

William Bernhardt is known for his political and legal thrillers, including the Daniel Pike and Ben Kincaid series. The Last Chance Lawyer was a number one best-selling novel. The distinguished writer earned the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award and the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award, among other accolades. Bernhardt was born in 1960 and has traveled worldwide, bringing many of his travel locations into his novels.

“She was alone now. And no one should be alone. No one. Never.”

William Bernhardt
The Last Chance Lawyer (Daniel Pike Legal Thriller Series)
  • Bernhardt, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 358 Pages - 12/02/2020 (Publication Date) - Babylon Books (Publisher)

7. Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Tom Clancy definitely deserves a spot on the list when it comes to writers who know how to write a thriller. Born in 1947 and dying in 2013, this prolific author wrote spy thrillers and had 17 bestsellers. Over 100 million of his books have been sold. The 1984 book The Hunt for Red October is perhaps his most famous work due to the movie based on this title, but other popular books include Patriot Games in 1987 and Clear and Present Danger in 1989. He eventually created the Jack Ryan series, which continues after his death through his family estate.

“A conscience is the price of morality, and morality is the price of civilization.”

Tom Clancy
Patriot Games (A Jack Ryan Novel)
  • Clancy, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 800 Pages - 10/30/2013 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

8. Lee Child

Lee Child
Lee Child via Wikipedia, Public Domain

James Dover Grant writes under the pen name Lee Child. Born in 1954, this prolific British author writes the Jack Reacher books, which follow an ex-military police corps member who takes on various cases throughout the United States. In 2012 a film about Jack Reacher made Child’s books a household name. The first book, Killing Floor, was published in 1997. If you liked this post, check out our round-up of authors like Lee Child.

“I’m not a vagrant. I’m a hobo. Big difference.”

Lee Child
Killing Floor (Jack Reacher)
  • didn't kill no convincing anyone.
  • Child, Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 10/30/2012 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

9. James Patterson

James Patterson, an American author born in 1947, writes for adults and children. Many of his adult books feature Alex Cross, a private detective with an uncanny ability to understand the psychology that drives murders. James Patterson is among the top-selling authors worldwide, and he earned the 2019 National Humanities Medal and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. His 1993 book Along Came a Spider is a popular choice.

“I never miss a good chance to shut up”

James Patterson

10. Dan Brown

Dan Brown
Dan Brown via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The Da Vinci Code is one of the world’s best-selling novels, and Dan Brown, born in 1964, is the genius who brought it to life. He has over 200 million copies of his novels, many of which focus on the interplay between religion and science, and his thriller style places him on this list of the best authors. Even though his books aren’t entirely political or legal thrillers.

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”

Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon)
  • Paris symbologist phone call murder painter
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

11. Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer
Brad Meltzer via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Brad Meltzer, born in 1970, writes for both adults and kids. His thrillers, including The Lightning Rod and The Escape Artist, place him on the list of authors like John Grisham. He is one of the only authors to have a non-fiction work, advice book, children’s book, and comic book all end up on the bestsellers list. This first book, The Tenth Justice, was rejected 24 times before finally getting a publisher in 1997 and launching Meltzer’s successful career.

“Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.”

Brad Meltzer
The Tenth Justice: A Novel
  • Meltzer, Brad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 543 Pages - 11/30/2021 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

12. John Sandford

John Sandford is a New York Times bestselling author named John Roswell Camp. In 1986, Camp won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his journalistic work. Born in 1944, he studied journalism in school before publishing his first two books, The Fool’s Run and Rules of Prey, in 1989. That sparked his love for writing, and he has 54 published works.

“Her Pan-Cake makeup was cracking like a dried-out Dakota lake bed.”

John Sandford
Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport, No. 1)
  • Sandford, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 08/02/2005 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

FAQs About Authors Like John Grisham

Who writes the best legal thrillers?

Penguin Random House lists John Grisham as the top legal thriller author. Their list of the best books in the genre includes three of his novels.

What are some of John Grisham’s most popular books?

Some of the most popular books from John Grisham include:
A Time to Kill
The Firm
The Whistler
The Rainmaker
A Painted House
The Client
The Pelican Brief

What is the name of John Grisham’s first book?

A Time to Kill was the first book published by John Grisham. He published it in 1989, and it sold just 5,000 copies. His second book, The Firm, launched him into bestseller status.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best American authors!


  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.