First edition cover
|April 10, 2012 (hardcover)
March 26, 2013 (paperback)
|Preceded by||The Litigators|
|Followed by||The Racketeer|
- Warren Tracey, 34-year-old journeyman New York Mets pitcher. He abuses alcohol, his wife, and his son. He is also known for hitting opposing batters and has a high enough opinion of himself to believe he was snubbed for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
- Paul Tracey, Warren's 11-year-old son. He is a modestly skilled Little League Baseball player and huge baseball fan.
- Joe Castle (known as "Calico Joe"), a promising 21-year-old rookie Chicago Cubs first baseman from Calico Rock, Arkansas who has posted career statistics of 21 home runs in 38 games and a career batting average of .488. He is a man of extreme virtue, who donates his signing bonus to a variety of charities.
- NB: Ages above are as of 1973
Author Grisham once dreamed of a career as a professional baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals. This, his first baseball novel, is about a beanball that ends the career of a promising player . The novel is inspired by the real life story of Ray Chapman, the only professional baseball player killed by a pitch. Grisham's novel involves a nearly fatal pitch thrown in August 24, 1973 and its implications 30 years later on both the batter, "Calico Joe" Castle, and the pitcher as narrated by Paul Tracey, the 11-year-old son of New York Mets pitcher Warren Tracey.
Castle starts his career with home runs in his first three Major League Baseball at bats as well as hits in his first 15 plate appearances and is able to keep his batting average over .500 for the first six weeks of his season. In a late-summer visit to Shea Stadium, Castle hits a home run in his first at-bat against Tracey. Paul Tracey is a huge fan of Castle's. Castle's career is ended later in the game by a pitch thrown at him. The Traceys become estranged and Paul does not watch another baseball game for 30 years. When Warren Tracey is on his death bed, Paul Tracey arranges a meeting with Castle.
Calico Joe debuted at number 1 on the April 29, 2012 The New York Times Best Seller list in the Hardcover Fiction category for the week ending April 14, 2012. The book also debuted atop the Publisher's Weekly best-seller list for the week of April 19. Calico Joe only debuted at number 6 on the April 19 USA Today best seller list. It debuted at number 3 on The Wall Street Journal's April 15 Hardcover Fiction Best Seller list.
According to Bob Minzesheimer of Gannett News Service "In baseball terms, Calico Joe is...like a pleasant, mid-season afternoon at the ballpark, when the home team slowly rallies and wins." In contrast to the typical Grisham novel that is "full of twists and turns and tension", this novel is "a sweet, simple story" according to The Washington Post's Steven V. Roberts. Roberts describes the novel as a fable with a moral that "Good can come out of evil; it’s never too late to confess your sins and seek forgiveness." The story is also about relationships, such as the Castle brothers', and the Father-son Tracey relationship, and the relationship between Joe and his hometown community. According to Glenn C. Altschuler for The Oregonian, Calico Joe "...is not a great baseball novel. But it, too, uses America's national pastime to search for moral and cultural truths." Altschuler notes that "As a ballplayer and as a person, Joe Castle is too good to be true." On the other hand he also notes that "Warren Tracey, by contrast, is too bad to be interesting." Altschuler opines that the ending "isn't all that credible".
- Minzesheimer, Bob (2012-04-19). "John Grisham's 'Calico Joe' slides to No. 6 on book list". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Minzesheimer, Bob (2012-04-15). "Review: ‘Calico Joe’ by John Grisham". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Roberts, Steven R. (2012-04-06). "John Grisham’s ‘Calico Joe’". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Altschuler, Glenn C. (2012-04-21). "'Calico Joe' review: Grisham swings, misses with a baseball tale of redemption". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Best Sellers: April 29, 2012". The New York Times. 2012-04-29. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
- "Grisham's "Calico Joe" debuts at top of bestsellers". Publisher's Weekly. 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- "Best-Selling Books". USA Today. 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- "Best-Selling Books, Week Ended April 15". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2012-04-26.