The movie rights to George Dawes Green’s thriller The Juror cost Columbia Pictures a fat $1.5 million, and the film will star screen heavyweights Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin. Impressive, yes, but surprising? Not really. The Juror reads more like a movie-to-book spin-off than vice versa.
When ”weary-looking” artist Annie Laird is picked to serve on a Mob-trial jury, a mysterious, Svengali-like hitman who calls himself ”the Teacher” targets her as the one to get his boss acquitted. So he does a good deal of lurking. He bugs Annie’s home. He hangs out in a tree for a while. The various victims of his stalking are all unbelievably nifty people. There’s Annie herself, the earthy Saint of Single Motherhood. There’s her wise-beyond-his- years 12-year-old, Oliver. And there’s their friend, Juliet, the world’s most fun-loving physician.
And if the good guys seem too good, get a load of the villain. He’s a master of disguises who tricks Annie into believing he’s an art dealer, while convincing his girlfriend that he’s a commodities investor. He also finds time for a list of hobbies that would make Martha Stewart green: Vivaldi, horticulture, Taoism, spoken-word poetry, and bird-watching.
Perhaps most incredible of all is the Teacher’s descent into insanity. After Annie acquiesces to his demands, any rational explanation for his involvement in her life disappears. As any connoisseur of evil knows, mad just isn’t as compelling as bad. The book becomes a quasi-international thriller, with the obsessed Teacher traveling to Guatemala to kill his rival for Annie’s affection (Oliver, who’s been stashed there by mom). And wouldn’t you know it, the Teacher and Annie even end up on the same flight. Rants he about all that has occurred up till this dramatic climax: ”[W]hat’s destined can’t be halted You and I, didn’t we look like fools trying to interfere? We were like a troupe of circus clowns.” Well, at least he got that right. C-