Grisham's latest inspired by Charlottesville case
Every John Grisham novel has a Charlottesville tie–- the author lives in Albemarle County and is a frequent fixture at various Downtown Mall establishments. But his latest effort, The Associate, due out tomorrow, is connected to Charlottesville by more than just its author's home address.
According to a review in the Washington Post, Grisham's 21st novel is inspired in part by what became widely known as the 12-Step Apology case, in which a former UVA student wrote a letter of apology to the woman he had sexually assaulted in a fraternity house more than 20 years earlier.
Grisham's novel may be inspired by that case, but according to the review, it quickly differentiates. Grisham's protagonist, a recent law school grad, is blackmailed with a cell phone video purportedly showing him in a room just three years earlier when two of his college friends have sex with a college freshman who may or may not be conscious.
Although one of the book's characters apologizes as part of a 12-step program, Grisham made no mention of the Charlottesville case during a January 27 appearance on the Today Show. Instead, host Matt Lauer mentions the Duke Lacrosse case, which Grisham confirms is mentioned in the book.
More than any specific case, Grisham explained to Lauer, he wanted to explore the "proliferation of cell phones, video recorders" and the legal woes they have brought down on individuals– many of them young– across the country in the past several years.
Liz Seccuro, the real-life 12-Step victim, says she didn't know about Grisham's new book prior to its publication, but she's pleased with its reported connection to her case.
"I am so flattered that such a beloved and prolific writer as Mr. Grisham would choose my story to fictionalize," says Seccuro. "It brings the issue of campus rape to millions. I am thrilled and humbled."
Seccuro's own book, a memoir detailing her experience as a sexual assault survivor and the case that catapulted her into the international spotlight, is due out from Bloomsbury in September and is available for pre-sale on Amazon under the title Crash Into Me: A Memoir.
At posting time, neither William Beebe, the real-life 12-Step apologizer, nor Grisham– who for the third year is judging the Hook's annual fiction contest– had responded to the Hook's request for comment.
–Story last updated January 27, 2009 at 11:30am.