The Summons by John Grisham


Reviewed by Allen Hott

This, without a doubt, is one of Grisham’s best books! A very well written story of Ray Atlee who is summoned to come back to his father’s home in Clanton Mississippi. His father, Judge Rueben Atlee, is one of the most well-known and highly regarded chancellors in the state. Although he and his two sons, Ray and Forrest, have never been very close the boys have always respected and responded to their father’s wishes. He has sent each of them a very official summons telling them what day and what time they are to be at the old homestead for a meeting.

Ray knows that his father is dying of cancer and fears that this may be the last meeting they will have. What he doesn’t know is what he finds out when he arrives. He goes into the house to find his father asleep (he thinks) on a couch so rather than wake him Ray sits outside on a porch for a bit. Finally when he does go in he touches his father’s hand and realizes that he is already dead! There doesn’t seem to be any criminal type cause of death. He has been taken away by the cancer and it occurred while he waited on his sons to arrive.

As has been somewhat typical for some time however Forrest doesn’t show up and Ray begins to look around the house to see if anything unusual is or has happened since his last visit. As it turns out, in one of the storage closets Ray finds among other things a cardboard box and when he opens it to see what is inside he finds stacks of hundred dollar bills. By a quick overview and observation it appears each box has over a hundred thousand dollars in it. And there are at least twenty of these green storage boxes in the closet! Where did this come from?

Ray also finds a newly written will which his father had just written and was laying on the table by his sofa. The will explained everything was to be handled through the courts and then divided between the two sons. Ray was to act as the executor of the estate. The will only mentions about six thousand dollars in the bank and has no mention of the money in the boxes.

Ray is at a loss as to what to do when Forrest finally does arrive. Forrest is a very addicted drug user who has wasted his money, his wife, and his life on drugs. Ray doesn’t mention to him about the boxes as the two sit and discuss how to handle their father’s funeral arrangement. After meeting with Harry Rex Vonner, an attorney and one of the Judge’s closest friends all arrangements are made and both Ray and Forrest go their separate ways just waiting for the funeral itself.

But from that moment on in the story Ray is saddled with not only the secret of the money but questions as to where it came from, who knows about it

if anyone, and what is going to happen to it. Basically Ray is the “unknown” guardian of the stash and he begins moving it around with him wherever he goes and wherever he stays. However, not too long after the funeral strange things begin to happen to Ray. Someone appears to be following him no matter where he is. And then when he does take the money in bags home with him, his home gets broken into. Shortly after he puts it into several storage units someone begins sending him pictures of the storage units!

How this is all grows into a really great story is one of Grisham’s best! The whole tale will keep any and all readers into the book right up to the end. Oh, yeah and even that may leave most of you stunned! It did me!