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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Extended Look at Guilt, Remorse, Punishment, and Redemption
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...
Published on 20 Jun 2008 by Donald Mitchell

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, but not as good as the rest
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...
Published on 23 Aug 2003


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Extended Look at Guilt, Remorse, Punishment, and Redemption, 20 Jun 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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.

The book's main weakness is that he pushes our noses a bit too much into nitty gritty of defending Death Row cases. Unless you are a lawyer (which I am), you won't find a lot of this very interesting. But if you are lawyer who hasn't been near a capital case, you'll find this book to be quite startling in terms of describing a situation for defense lawyers where they have little hope to win . . . but lots of chances to experience a broken heart.

If you want a shorter look at Grisham's views on the subject, you might enjoy the non-fiction The Innocent Man more than The Chamber.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-changing book, 15 Dec 2001
This review is from: The Chamber (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking book, 30 Jan 2005
By 
John Kimble (N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, but not as good as the rest, 23 Aug 2003
By A Customer
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
2.0 out of 5 stars a good read that needed a good ending, 15 Nov 2008
By 
Robert Taylor (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but intriguing!!, 20 Aug 2003
By 
V. Carrick "Rob" (Kent) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I read this book, being a John Grisham fan - and have to say it left me feeling slightly confused. I cant really say too much, because I clearly do not want to give away any plot lines - but suffice to say that he wasted some very good plots, and didnt make the most of potential story lines that he created. If he had done so, then the book would have been an absolute blinder. It was almost as if he was writing the book, introduced a story line, then abandoned it straight away, with no rhyme or reason. Read it and you'll know what I mean.
However, the story line was very emotive and had me questioning my own beliefs more than once. Is it really possible to feel sorry for a convicted murderer/racist on death row? John Grisham will get you thinking that way! And will have you questioning your own morals and ethics. But thats good, because he does it, while all the time progressing the plot and adding depth and reality to a pretty small character list. One of the refreshing things about this Grisham book, is that the lawyer in question, Adam Hall, is not an arrogant "save the world" hot shot. Yes, he is fresh out of law school and yes, he was excelling at all he did - but he had weaknesses, vulnerabilities and doubts. He didn't always "get it right" and he doubted himself sometimes - so, refreshing to see.
A good read, but not necessarily a satisfying one it has to be said.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was happy yet sad but thoroughly intresting., 23 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Chamber (Paperback)
This book gives you an unexpected ending and makes you feel as if you know the persons involved. I've read this book twice seen the film twice and still can't wait till I read it again.The ending has a twist that you pray all through the book doesn't happen.It's a tale of the wrongs of any justice system. A man is improsened for a crime he didn't comite but still feels guilty over. He has less than a month till he goes into the gas chamber. His long loss grandson arrives and tries to save his grandfathers life.As the pressure mounts the mans fellow kluckers protest outside the jail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've ever read, 1 Nov 2003
Words can simply not describe this book. As i am only fifteen i found the subject of the book hard hitting but intreguing. I started to read it, having seen the film, and was compelled. I have never experienced a book with such passion, raw ambition and hard hitting literacy.
It unfolds chapter by chapter and has you reading for more and more.
I originally read the book as i was intrigued by the film but now i see the film does not do John Grisham justice.
The plot is about Sam Kayhall, an inmate on death row for over twenty years. He has been sentenced to death and is to be defended by his long lost grandson. However, the reason to which he is on death row is that he innocently killed two young jewish children in a bombing. As a result he ruined many peoples' lives. However, we know that in his life he has committed many murders as part of an active member of the Ku Klux Klan.
This is just a peek into the novel, don't sit wondering to read it, buy it now!
This book was simply breath taking and easily, "The best book i've ever read".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Grisham novel to date, 2 Jan 2007
The first time I heard of John Grisham is when I saw the trailer for the "The Firm". I had just seen "A Few Good Men", and wondered to myself, OH NO not another movie where Tom Cruise plays the lawyer. To my surprise, the story was really good even if the ending was altered. I thought to myself that this author/scriptwriter must have written other books. Why not have a peek at one of them . That particular "peek" was "The Chamber", and now shortly afterwards, here I am writing this online review. The relationship between Adam and Sam is really well penned. It just shows that bad seeds don't exist, there is always a time for redemption be it intra or inter generation. Pity that the film wasn't that good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Death is not the end, 2 May 2004
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A death penalty is a heavy sentence, because it is so irreversible. But some crimes, so hideous, might deserve one, right? The book starts off by describing one such crime, and the details of it make you wonder if death may be an acceptable punishment in some cases. But the story of Sam Cayhall is one that makes it clear that a death sentence is not a solution, in any case. His grandson, Adam, has suffered a life of sadness because of his grandfather's crime and has even changed his last name to Hall to distantiate himself from him. But when the gas chamber comes closer, Adam decides to work on his grandfather's case to at least understand something of the crime his grandfather has committed. And his search leads him to understand that in crimes like this, it is difficult to find just one guilty party.
Adam has virtually no connection with his grandfather. Apart from changing his name, they also have very little history in common. Adam is educated, where Sam was not. Adam grows up in Chicago, far from the racial South of the country. He has had no contact with his grandfather, ever. Yet Adam seemingly has being preparing himself all his life for this moment, and puts himself at risk by trying to help his grandfather. The more he finds out, the more it becomes clear to him that his grandfather is taking the fall for someone else.
Sam was a member of the Klan, a hateful person who has participated in a horrible crime. He spent his years in jail, awaiting his sentence, apparently without remorse for the lives he has taken.
I've had to put the book down at times to try and let it all sink in. It is difficult to understand the way in which Adam throws himself at saving his grandfather, because at the same time, it is clear he finds his grandfather's actions so apprehensible. His struggle to defend Sam is obviously an attempt to be a better person than his grandfather ever was, in a paradoxal way to make up for his grandfather's horrors by trying to save him from the gas chamber.
The book left me restless, trying to come to a conclusion about what "the best" might have been in this situation. Clearly, death sentence is not the answer, but why would life imprisonment be any better?
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The Chamber
The Chamber by John Grisham (Hardcover - Jun 1994)
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