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The Street Lawyer [Hardcover]

John Grisham
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Mar 1998
From the author of THE PARTNER, a thriller, in which the rising star of Drake and Sweeney finds that it is better not to have a conscience if he is to obtain a partnership. But a violent encounter changes his whole outlook on life and he begins to dig into the secrets of Drake and Sweeney. An act which could cost him his life.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Century; Travellers Edition edition (30 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712679715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712679718
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 950,067 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

John Grisham is back with his latest courtroom conundrum, The Street Lawyer. This time the lord of legal thrillers dives deep into the world of the homeless, particularly their barely audible legal voice in a world dominated by large, all-powerful law firms. Our hero, Michael Brock, is on the fast track to partnership at Washington D.C.'s premier law firm, Sweeny & Drake. His dream of someday raking in a million plus a year is finally within reach. Nothing can stop him, not even 90- hour workweeks and a failing marriage--until he meets DeVon Hardy, a.k.a. "Mister," a Vietnam vet with a grudge against his landlord--and a few lawyers to fry. Hardy, with no clear motive, takes Brock and eight of his colleagues hostage in a boardroom, demanding their tax returns and interrogating them with a conviction that would have put perpetrators of the Spanish Inquisition to shame. Hardy, a man of few words and a lot of ammunition, mumbles cryptically: "Who are the evictors?" as he points a .44 automatic within inches of Brock's face. The violent outcome of the hostage situation triggers an abrupt soul-searching for the young lawyer, and Hardy's mysterious question continues to haunt him. Brock learns that Hardy had been in and out of homeless shelters most of his life, but he had recently begun paying rent in a rundown building; that means he has legal recourse when a big money-making outfit such as Sweeny & Drake boots him with no warning. When Brock realises that his profession caters to the morally challenged, he sets out on an aimless search through the dicier side of D.C., ending up at the 14th Street Legal Clinic. The clinic's director, a gargantuan man named Mordecai Green, woos Brock to the clinic with a $90,000 cut in pay and the chance to redeem his soul. Brock takes it--and some of the story's credibility along with it; it's hard to believe that a Yale graduate who sacrificed everything--including his marriage--to succeed in the legal profession would quickly jump at the opportunity for low-paying charitable work. However, Brock's search for corruption in the swanky upper echelons of Sweeny & Drake (via the toughest streets of D.C.) is filled with colourful characters and realistic, gritty descriptions. In the The Street Lawyer, Grisham once again defends the voiceless and powerless. In the words of Mordecai Green: "That's justice, Michael. That's what street law is all about. Dignity." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"No one does it better than Grisham. This latest novel is as unputdownable as ever." (Daily Telegraph)

"Fluent and fascinating. Few writers have so much to say, the skills to make reading what they say an irresistible pleasure -- and the clout to be able to say it to an audience of millions." (Independent)

"Compelling... Grisham is more adept at getting the reader to turn the page than almost any writer working today." (Daily Mail) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Years pass by, but do things change? 30 Mar 2007
It might seem an odd choice to review a book coming up ten years old, but this has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust, and as it is the only Grisham book I haven't read, I decided to dip into it while I waited for the new Lee Child to come out. I'm glad I did.

It tells the story of Michael Brock, Corporate Lawyer earning big bucks, pretty wife, fast lane to partner status and millionairedom. Everything is rosy until an odd incident occurs. A vagrant, a street dweller hijacks the lawyers in their tower-block office and before he can make clear his demands, special-forces blow him away. The vagrant's brains are splashed over Brock's face. It changes his outlook on life, but then it would.

He begins to take an interest in the homeless, he resigns his cushy job and big bucks, loses his wife, and takes on pro bono unpaid legal work on behalf of the street people, and that is just the beginning of his journey.

This book concentrates attention on homeless people in American inner cities. Whether their plight has greatly changed in the intervening ten years I have no idea, but my guess is things haven't altered that much.

As always with Mister Grisham's books the narrative rushes along. I was never tempted to duck any pages and it is all too easy to see why he has shifted so many copies of his books over the years. I liked this one a lot. It was thought provoking, retained my attention throughout, and though I kind of guessed the ending long before I actually arrived there, I was never disappointed.

If you like Grisham, you will like this. If you don't like Grisham you will probably still like it. Definitely recommended.

Coincidentally this very day John Grisham was in London to collect a lifetime achievement award for among other things, selling over 250 million books. Incredibly he stated he had never won an award before. Perhaps writers should be more valued by us all, and feted too.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read - A Real Must Have 29 Sep 2004
By A Customer
This book is brilliant! The story grabs you from the very first chapter which prompts you to continue reading. The story tells of how a hard-hearted lawyer re-thinks his priorities in life and chooses to help those people less off. The story is touching and makes you think after reading it. It is definately not just a read and throw away book! John Grisham has demonstrated what an excellent writer he truly is with this text and I would advise anyone who is reading this review to purchase the book as soon as possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grisham with social conscience 21 Oct 2006
Grisham often writes about the mendacity of lawyers who will do all they can to earn as much as possible, usually over-billing their clients. But here we have lawyers who have a conscience. The life of one greedy lawyer is changed for ever by contact with a deranged homeless man. He becomes a lawyer for the poor losing his wealth, his wife and almost his career. My one criticism would be that his ending is so nice as to be rather incredible. Nevertheless, you have to love the abilities of a great storyteller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Grisham novel 26 Jan 2005
By John Kimble VINE VOICE
A Yale graduate and fast tracked to partnership, Michael Brock has sacrificed everything, including his marriage, for the law and his firm Drake + Sweeny.
However a kidnapping by a homeless man 'Mister' is about to have a profound effect on his life. When the hostage situation is brought to a seemingly unnecessary violent ending Michael begins to look into Misters background and realises he is yet another victim of a big corporation who had his rights under the law overlooked.
A meeting with Mordecai Green, a legal champion for the homeless, changes Michael forever and sees the unlikely event of him turning his back on certain wealth and prosperity for a much less money, swapping his plush office for more basic surroundings.
I feel this is a good read, though it does lose its way a little. However I feel it demonstrates how today after some soul searching, people can still be called to their vocation, however unlikely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written book that makes you take notice 14 April 2001
By A Customer
After reading the street lawyer, I started to notice myself the level of homelessness in my own city, Michael Brock a young lawyer has a drastic life changing experience that brings to light the plight of the homeless in Washington, and uncovers a dark wrongdoing comitted by his colleagues.
The book is written well and the sad story gives you a lot to think about and makes you see just what is around you, stuff i hardly ever noticed until reading this, one of the best books i've read and certainly one of John Grishams finest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 5 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This is an excellent book, and in my opinion, Grisham's best. It was fast paced, emotive, and exciting. I felt a real empathy with the character Micheal which has changed a part of my life. If you miss this then you miss out on something special.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written story. Grisham draws you in 11 May 1999
By A Customer
Very well written story. Grisham draws you into involvement with the key character without you noticing. The book is subtle enough to really enjoy, and hard hitting enough to have you questioning yourself. A very enjoyable read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guilt ridden read... 31 Jan 2005
An excellent portrayal of how life must be for the homeless. A clever book which makes you think about your own contributions to the poverty stricken people around you.
In my opinion a book which stirs emotion and makes you think how you can improve yourself, is a book worth reading!
Buy a copy now... and then give it away to a homeless charity!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
An insightful and compelling look at the tough life of the homeless and the system that is supposed to hep them. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Scarlet Dragon
5.0 out of 5 stars John Grisham
As usual excellant delivery and service. A good read, I always enjoy his books and take them on holiday for a good read.
Published 2 months ago by Catherine Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
thoroughly enjoyed the book like all other Grisham novels. Would recommend it to anyone who likes this type of book
Published 4 months ago by matt roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars John Grisham writes so well and I love his themes and characters
I have read every book he has written and love them all they are always so readable, pact and interesting
Published 4 months ago by PCGreenhalgh
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither good or bad
A fairly easy book to read before going to sleep but not something I'd want to sit up all night reading. Fairly predictable plot and not terribly exciting.
Published 6 months ago by MrN.McGranahan
4.0 out of 5 stars the street lawyer john grisham
a real page turner and very thought provoking puts the things we worry about into prospective .maybe next time we see a homeless person we can not just overlook them but try to see... Read more
Published 6 months ago by staffiefan
5.0 out of 5 stars the street lawyer revie
briliant read as usual from Grisham could not put it down as with his other books I have read,excellent on to the next one !
Published 7 months ago by Robbo
4.0 out of 5 stars my land line telephone number has changed. I have not received this or...
I still have NOT received this book or the other three books I ordered on 19th sept to my kindle HELP. My telephone number land line has changed. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kagiso
4.0 out of 5 stars Amongst the better John Grisham Novels
I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised by the Street Lawyer.

In many ways this was a typical Grisham novel as it centred around the legal profession and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by GOTTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Grisham - The Street Lawyer
As a big fan of John Grisham, I thought this book was to his usual very high standard and enjoyed reading it immensely. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ollie Cat
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