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The Chamber Hardcover – 2 Jun 1994

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Century; 1st edition (2 Jun. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712654542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712654548
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,165,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description

Amazon Review

At first listen, the narration of this abridged version of John Grisham's The Chamber seems flat and uninvolved. But Michael Beck has chosen his vocal style well, purposely eschewing unnecessary adornment and allowing this searing indictment of racism and murder to unfold on its own terms. Beck uses character voices sparingly, adding subtle emphasis to the already charged plot. The story begins with a Klan-sponsored bombing and then traces a trail of rigged acquittals stretching over three decades, until a young lawyer with secrets of his own brings the case to a powerful conclusion. --George Laney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A first-rate thriller" Sunday Telegraph "His stories are ferociously plot-driven: they will keep you awake all night" Independent on Sunday "Compelling... after 50 pages I could barely wait to turn the rest over... Grisham knows how to tell a story" Sunday Times "Totally hypnotic ... scenes unfold and unfold and you can't stop reading" The Washington Post "A dark and thoughtful tale pulsing with moral uncertainties ... Grisham is at his best" People --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jun. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If your idea of a good book is one where there is lots of action and fascinating twists and turns of plot complications pop up on every page, you shouldn't go anywhere near The Chamber. If, however, you would like to gain a visceral sense of the issues around capital punishment, The Chamber is a well-constructed fictional treatment. It won't be a pretty or a pleasant experience, but neither is capital punishment.

I remember as a youngster carefully following the case of Caryl Chessman, a convicted robber and rapist who was executed in California's gas chamber. Reading The Chamber brought back those visceral memories of thinking through my reactions to the death penalty. I became an opponent. Most people who read this book will too.

John Grisham does a good job of making the book about the death penalty, rather than the general flaws in the legal system. He also explains the reasons why gas chambers were an awful way to execute criminals.

The condemned man in the story is clearly guilty, by his own admission, in the book; but Grisham makes him somewhat appealing: Grisham wants us to think about what should happen to this old white man, Sam Cayhall, a KKK member who participated in terror bombings in the South during the Civil Rights era. Grisham's clever idea for this book is to have Sam's grandson Adam Hall, who doesn't know his grandfather, handle the last few weeks of desperate appeals. Hall becomes a surrogate for a neutral observer in a situation where there can be no neutral observers.

I was impressed by the plotting and character development in the story. Murder creates more victims than most people realize, even among the killer's family. Grisham adds those dimensions in persuasive fashion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Burns ( on 15 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the most well writen and touching books I have ever read. Me being only 12 found it a slight bit difficult at the start but as I kept reading I was sucked more and more into it.
This book may completely change your mind on the death penalty because it gives both sides of the story. Not just the "he's evil lets gas him" point of view, but the trauma that the convicted's family is put through. As you read it you find out more of the evil things he has done but some of the good things are remembered too...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Kimble VINE VOICE on 30 Jan. 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a story of a young lawyer from the giant Chicago law firm of Kravitz & Bane called Adam Hall. He has taken a keen interest in the case of a death row inmate called Sam Cayhill, a man convicted of the Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed 2 Jewish children.
Sam hates lawyers and dismissed his legal team years ago and has become quite adapt at handling his own legal affairs, however Adam has a secret that may persuade the old man to hire him as his attorney.
I really enjoyed this book, and although it takes a while to get going I feel the characters are strong and well developed as the book goes on. Although Sam is a bitter racist, the story develops to show the man behind the harsh bigoted exterior. I even found myself feeling sorry for the old man at times, even though I didn't want to. This is a quality book about a lost relationship rekindled under the most unlikely circumstances.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Aug. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read many books by John Grisham, and being highly interested in the subject of the death penalty, the views for and against in America, I was intringued by the prospect of "The Chamber", following a long line of books that address this topic (although I not sure if they are few and far between).
Whilst slightly thin on pace, depth of plot, this book - does present some views of the death penalty, although in a biased manner. The plot is one sided against the death penalty with weak arguments for the other side; it is still enjoyable in some parts, reminescence of Grisham's better works.
The simple plot is a lawyer trying to save a man who after years of appeals is going to face the death penalty. It explains the difficulties that a person on death row can feel, however it did this at the expense of the many horrible crimes he participated in. This to my view, was trying to say (inadvertenly) it's okay if you kill people, why should the killer suffer the consequences of his action.
The ending is surprising, but leaves an air of depth that many parts of the book are lacking.
Perhaps this is a book that may change people's view on the death penalty. It does produce a more humanistic view of the not the perpertrator himself, but rather the pains of the family of the accused facing death penalty.
You may well enjoy reading it, though Grisham has wrote many better then this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Taylor on 15 Nov. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read all things Grisham, the master of the courtroom, but having just finished reading The Chamber I felt compelled to write my first ever review! I was especially intrigued by the storyline of The Chamber and wondered whether this was going to be another enthralling read with courtroom detail that would hold my attention on the turn of every page. In this book the courtroom is a sideshow - the main focus is the relationship between Adam, the lawyer, and his grandfather Sam, a KKK member and death row inmate. I normally read a few chapters at a time and return to the book later to catch up on a few more chapters; with this book I couldn't wait to read the next chapter, and the chapter after that and so it went on. When the full extent to the horrors of Sam's past became known, the end was inevitable - wasn't it? I couldn't wait for the final chapter, always anticipating a twist that would make the inevitable outcome obsolete .... but it didn't happen - there was no twist. The final chapter was the dampest of squibs and it left me feeling cheated having invested all that time immersing myself in what, until that final chapter, was a really good read. Really good reads need a really good ending and sadly The Chamber failed to deliver the twist that the book teased me into believing would happen - the ending simply fell away and it left me feeling cheated out of a proper ending. How disappointing.
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