Tag Archives: john grisham

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!

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A somewhat different book for Mr. Grisham. Although it is very involved with the legal world it is a non-fiction book. Grisham had seen some news articles about this unusual case and decided to follow it. And then he turned it into The Innocent Man. From all indications it is definitely a case of an innocent man who gets completely and unfairly tried and convicted by the authorities.

Ron Williamson had been a fairly decent ballplayer in his youth and actually was signed by Oakland Athletics to a minor league contract. Sadly he never had enough talent to hang on in the minors nor make it to the big leagues. He pretty much hung around Ada, Oklahoma and got by. He had many friends and he was always out in public somewhere. Most of his time when he wasn’t working he was hanging out in bars and saloons.

The Reckoning: A Novel by John Grisham

Another very great story written I would say perfectly by the master himself. Grisham is very good at building stories, often moving back and forward in the time frame of the hero’s life, but never losing the main thread of the story. Perfect dialogue and always enough descriptive plotting to keep the reader alert and anxious for more.

 In The Reckoning the story is about a southern family and is pretty much centered on Pete Banning, the head of that family. Pete is the owner of his family’s cotton farm which has been in his family for many, many years. It all begins with Pete getting up one day and walking down to the family church where he walks in and with one bullet to the chest area kills the family minister.

Pete’s wife, Liza, had been put into a mental institution some time previously and was pretty much non-responsive to anyone or anything around her. So the only people close to Pete to rally for him in his defense were his sister, his children, and his friends. No one however could stand up to the pressure of the state’s judicial system and the feelings of the entire local residents.

 What all happens in the next portion of the book is how Pete is put on trial, convicted, and electrocuted in an electric chair that is set up in the county courthouse! Pete had done the deed for what he believed in his mind was the right thing to do.

The next part of the story actually moves backward and follows Pete’s life before all of this. He had been a very gallant soldier and not only fought hard in the Pacific in World War II but he actually had also been taken prisoner and had ended upmaking it through the famous Bataan Death March. That forced march instituted by the Japanese had killed many U.S. and Filipino soldiers.

However Pete had managed to live through the march.  Later he and another prison managed to escape from the huge prison camp that they were placed in. While hiding in the woods he was rescued by a band of guerillas who were fighting the Japanese from their various hideouts all over the Bataan woods. Pete and his buddy joined the guerillas and were eventually rescued and sent back to the states.

Pete had first been declared a prisoner and then later declared dead by the military so the folks at home had no knowledge of his escapades or that he was even alive until he returned.

 There is so much more of this great book as the Bannings have to fight to try to keep their property from the wife of the slain pastor. It becomes a real part of any Grisham as it gets very involved with the legal system and how it works for and against folks.

But then there is even more as the winding down of the story contains some very important facts that come out from the death lips of one of the Banning family.  And as they always say……And that is the rest of the story!!

The Brethren by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The BrethrenThis is a really interesting story that basically has several stories going on at the same time. The Brethren are a group of three ex-judges who are currently serving time in a minimum federal security prison or camp which is meant for criminals who have committed nonviolent crimes basically against society. They have to be guarded and watched but it is a very low security atmosphere. One of the three had been convicted for tax evasion, one was a justice of the peace who was jailed for embezzling bingo profits, and one had killed two hikers in Yellowstone while he was driving drunk. They basically had jurisdiction over the other inmates in the prison camp as long as it was a crime dealing only with other prisoners.

But there status did allow them to have privileges such as mail in and out without anyone checking it. They were also allowed visits unhampered by their attorney who in fact became their errand boy as they used him in the scheme which they put together. He was happy with the overall arrangement because one of the three judges was a knowledgeable sports gambler and he was always giving the errand boy tips on games to bet with very good odds of winning.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Rooster BarWriting about young law students or those just recently admitted to the bar has always been a good stomping ground for Grisham. And The Rooster Bar really fills the bill!

A group of law students attending Foggy Bottom Law School basically get together on several evening meetings and begin discussing the Foggy Bottom Law School. One of them especially has been looking into some strange things about the school as far as placement of graduates and also failure rates etc. He is determined that something is not right so he tells his two buddies and his girlfriend that he is putting together a study to either prove or disprove his theory.

Basically he finds in his studies that the bulk of the lower rated law schools, such as Foggy Bottom, not only produce fewer top graduates. But also strangely enough many of these lower rated schools appear to be owned by a group of industrialists who would not appear to have any interest particularly in further education and definitely not in law degrees. No one takes his findings too seriously but he continues with his theories.

Camino Island: A Novel by John Grisham

Camino IslandReviewed by Allen HottCamino Island is a very interesting story by one of the top story tellers of the day. John Grisham writes about law in some fashion or another but the real fashion of his writing is just plain good writing. He gets your interest and keeps it throughout by using great description, good dialogue, and little if any sex or profanity.

Five bad guys steal some priceless original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University. The originals are worth many, many big bucks and these five not only carry off the crime but know who and where to put the manuscripts to keep them safe for a period but also to make their value go even higher.

However they, like most criminals, are not perfect and make several big mistakes which cause them big problems. But they have done the job well enough that no one knows where the papers are so that is in their favor.

The Whistler by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The WhistlerI would say this is Grisham’s best but I believe I say that after each of his books that I read. But truthfully this is a tremendous read. He always does a great job writing about the courts and trials but this one like some others goes into a lot of detail about the happenings outside the courthouse.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Sebastian Rudd who in fact is the Rogue Lawyer is a different sort of Rogue Lawyerand a completely different lawyer. He pretty much works as a public defender taking the cases that no other lawyer usually wants. He defends those that he believes are innocent or at least they have had their cases distorted by police and courts that are just looking for someone to take the blame in cases they have a hard time solving.

Click Here to Find More Information on Rogue Lawyer

The first case involves a young man who fits the bill of a down and out no- account who likely could have done the deed he is accused of. However Rudd, unlike the rest of the little town, really believes that the man is not guilty. To prove it he needs to get the blood of the man he truly believes did the crime. By using a cage-fighter that he backs in fights and bets on, Rudd is able to get the blood sample matched as he needs and also luckily one member of the jury attempts to talk with him when he is at one of the weekly cage fights that he attends. These two events comprise the necessary steps that Rudd needs for a not guilty verdict.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Gray Mountain

Reviewed by Allen Hott

One of the most interesting books that I have read in some time. Many of us are familiar with Grisham’s writings which mostly focus on attorneys and courtroom drama. Gray Mountain is pretty much along those lines but with twists and turns that make it even more appealing than usual.

Samantha Korver works as an attorney of a huge law firm in New York City. She is far from the top and is working hard to get there. Billing up to 70 hours per week to clients she does in fact put in more hours than that usually. However she has settled in and loves being in the big city.

The Last Juror by John Grisham

The Last Juror

Reviewed by Allen Hott

One fantastic story about the south and more clearly its residents as can only be told by John Grisham. He writes about courtrooms well but when those courtrooms are located in the south it is just that much better.

The Last Juror tells about a young man Joyner William Traynor who moved from Syracuse after not quite finishing his journalistic degree to the town of Clanton Alabama. This occurs in 1970 when integration was still in its infancy and blacks were not generally accepted in small southern towns.

Shortly after his arrival he gets the opportunity to purchase the small local newspaper that he works for. With help from BeeBee, his aunt, he buys The Ford County Times and begins to make changes from the previous owner’s style (mostly lengthy obituaries).