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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In THE TESTAMENT, we have an obscenely wealthy businessman committing suicide after devising the perfect plan to vengefully deprive a flock of vulture-like heirs from inheriting his $11 billion estate. Rather, he leaves it all to an illegitimate daughter working as a missionary to the Indians in the remote outback of Brazil. Our hero, Nate, is a burned-out lawyer just out of alcohol rehab sent to find the will's sole beneficiary. Even though she doesn't want the money, he returns to the States to defend her interests against those of the money-desperate ex-heirs and their just-as-greedy lawyers, probably the largest school of razor-toothed sharks ever encountered in a single volume.
Suffice it to say that Nate is one of the most appealing characters conjured by Grisham in a long time. By the end of the book, he finds professional, spiritual and emotional redemption stemming from his surprisingly brief encounter with Rachel, the elusive missionary daughter, and a somewhat longer bout with dengue fever. That, in itself, makes this story worth reading. The fact that the truly avaricious get their just desserts is frosting on the cake. A delicious read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Troy Phelan, worth $11 billion, loves his business and hates his ex-wives and children. Rumored to be suffering from terminal cancer, Phelan calls the family together to sign a new will. The heirs cooperate by providing psychiatrists to observe and verify that Phelan is in his right mind. That's the apparent game plan, but Phelan has a second and more shocking one. Thus opens The Testament.

Probate law isn't very exciting, and John Grisham decides to dress it up with a cast of characters that are almost parodies of parodies, so much so that they didn't resonate with me. As a result, the "exciting" beginning bored me.

The bulk of the story eventually shifts to recovering alcoholic and drug addict, attorney Nate O'Riley, who is sent straight from rehab to Brazil to find a missing heir, Rachel Lane, who is a medical missionary to the indigenous people there. His journey is harrowing and tests his limited strength to the limits. But the journey also is a beginning of his personal redemption through receiving Salvation for the Lord, Jesus Christ. As soon as the redemption part of the story begins, the book vastly improves. Without that element, I would have rated this as a one- or two-star effort.

It's unusual for a secular writer to put a major Christian theme in a popular work of fiction. I applaud Mr. Grisham for doing so.

May God bless you, Mr. Grisham!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
John Grisham is what I would call airport fiction. His stories are rarely taxing and in fact are often too simple. However, if you are on a long journey of lying on a sunny beach Grisham is a perfect read.
'The Testament' is one such novel and in my opinion the best I have read of his so far. After a multi billionaire kills himself his greedy family expects a huge pay out. However, the billionaire has decided to give his money to an unknown heiress who has become a missionary in Brazil. It is up to washed out lawyer Nate to track down this mysterious woman and get her to sign the forms – or the awful family will get it instead!
This book jumps between the pre-courtroom drama of the family suing their fathers estate with the adventures Nate has traveling the wilds of Brazil. The book is quite far fetched and in places a bit ridiculous but its fast pace and fun feel means you let it off. Another criticism lies in how fast the book is wrapped up. Perhaps Grisham could have added a few more pages rather than rushing to a conclusion.
However, overall I enjoyed the book immensely and I think you would too if you switch off the rationale part of your brain and go for the ride!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2007
John Grisham has done it again. I had read this book originally a year after release. And I just finished my second read. And though it all started to come back to me as I read it...It was still an exciting page-turner as it was the first time. That says a lot about this book.

A self-made billionaire, the tenth richest man in America, has all his heirs come in to prove he is sane and competent before signing his last Will and Testament. Which he does, right before he commits suicide in front of those still present. And of course as he leaves out each and every known heir from his will. And as you learn how greedy and selfish they are, you are pleased he did.

He does pay off all his children's debt and leaves the remainder of his holdings to his illegitimate daughter no one knew he had. Nor does anyone know where she is. His law firm sends a drug/alcohol addict just out of rehab for the fourth time to find her. He finds her an M.D. who has dedicated her life to God and is working deep in the jungles of Brazil.

I found the book a very fast read that has some plot twist and is well written. Well worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2000
Grisham is back with his most unputdownable book to date. He takes you on a trip through the amazon as a kind of metaphor for Nate O'Riley's, his central chracter, scramble back from alcohol and drug abuse (not to metion his failed marriages). Money, greed and amazing plot twist are all the best parts of Grisham's novels and this is no exception. Oh the last twist is the best one but your going to have to read it for yourself because I'm not going to tell you it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2000
Troy Phelan, lunatic, eccentric, bored, lonley, or a mix of all four? Nate O'Riley do we feel sympathy or distain for this washed up litigator? Those terrifying spouses & siblings, bloated with rightous indignation & sheer greed; egged on by a ruthless and equaly greedy pack of lawyers.
Grisham treats us to a gripping page turner as O'Riley battles his personal demons and natural foes as he forges some unlikely bonds on his quest to find the elusive Miss Lane.
Interspaced with this we have the utterly disgusting tales of the heirs and their scheming lawyers, do people like this truly exist in the US? (Grisham time and again shows his obvious revulsion of the American litigator, it makes one wonder if he was frightened by a 'whole bunch of lawyers' as a small child.)
The climax of the book is both sad and uplifting a true mix of emotions. Nate O'Riley the next great Anti-Hero?
Classic Grisham - a must for any fan or a great introduction to one of the US's best mainstream fiction writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2000
Grisham maintains his good form with a very readable tale giving sufficient depth to all the characters to retain the reader's interest throughout. The first chapter is a stormer leaving you anxious to read on, and although the rest of the book can't compete with the start it retains enough interest throughout to avoid any waning of interest. A Washington litigator's plight in the Brazilian jungles, in an area called the Pantanal, seaching for an unknown beneficiary of a rather large wad, leaves the reader wanting to know more about the region without it becoming a travelogue. It's a mixture of the legal wranglings back in Washington and the main character's adventures in the remote swamps of Brazil. Fans of Grisham should not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2006
As I have stated in some of my other reviews I am a John Grisham fan having read most of his work. This may not be his best to date (not as good as The Client) but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Troy Phelan billionaire has found a way to die without leaving his back stabing family his money. Instead the money is left to his illegitimate daughter who is a World Tribes missionary on the Brazil-Bolivia border.It is left to Nate O'Riley a down and out lawyer to travel to Brazil to find this daughter while the rest of the family fight over the will in court. A good read that shows up the modern western way of life in a bad light and shows that you don't need lots of money to be content-----(No but it does help!).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2001
I was 14 and had gotten totally bored of all the Point Horror series, and the Christopher Pikes... I was about to leave Cape Town International on a 11 and a half hour journey to Spain and so decided i had to have something to read! Something clicked in my head and i thought of a book i had seen lying on the my friends bedside table, a book called The Firm, by John Grisham.. But, they didnt have that one and so recommended The Testament, which i dissapointedly accepted. Well, i cant tell you how happy i am i bought that book... I have never read something so excellent, thrilling, edgy, and capturing in my life... I mean the beginnig sentence had me crasped to the book for 6 hours of the flight... For anyone, this book is possibly one of the best ever...Trust me, you'll be happy you decided to buy it!
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A well written story of a multibillionaire’s last will and testament. He, Troy Phelan, dies an elderly, unfulfilled, man, suiciding as a bitter statement. His dysfunctional legitimate children rejoice, expecting a fortune. Sadly, or fortunately for them, his secret will, validated moments before his suicide, leaves the bulk of it to one of his illegitimate daughters (Rachel Lane), yet commits to clear all the existing debts of his legitimate ones providing they don’t contest this last will. Finding her could be difficult, as she had become a missionary living with a remote tribe on the Brazil-Bolivia border – even the billionaire had searched in vain.
The law firm appointed to discover her (surprisingly quite honest) is headed by Josh Stafford, long trusted by Troy. He in turn has a trusted friend and partner, Nate O’Riley, sadly an alcoholic in and out of rehab. Nate is commissioned to go find – it’ll be an adventure and might do him good. The story splits into an ABAB story, roughly toggling between Nate’s adventures, and Josh’s mental battle with the lawyers of the legitimate children, screaming for their money, initially unaware that it isn’t in fact theirs, and racing into further debt. Nate faces more the physical battles of the floods and plane crashes of the giant Pantanal wetlands of Brazil. Yet he also faces the psychic battles of alcohol addiction. Enter Rachel Lane. She is in her forties, and seems substantially committed to the spiritual, in which she provides doctoring to the native tribe of Ipicas. An amount of humanitarian background is thrown in, reflecting ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, as well as ecological poisoning of the wetlands by capitalist greed and folly. This helps one feel for the native peoples and their environment.
Jane and Nate connect. Painfully, in narration she is “Ms Lane” (p202,377), misleading because she doesn’t denigrate marriage: ‘Miss Lane’ would have amended. Unmindful of its Radical Feminist designation to swamp out marriage (I’m a Christian Feminist, to cite Elaine Storkey’s What’s Wrong With Feminism?), ‘Ms’ is probably Grisham’s ill-considered term for any unmarried woman, though is possibly justified when the other women are referred to by that ideological tab (pp378,408,423,436), excepting the missionary admin woman who presumably would support marriage (p389). Ms is thus the painful preach of a faulty sermon, an insult to biblical missionaries, and cheapens the book. Another bad preach, this time from Jane, is that unless even good folk believe in Christ before they die, they end up in hell (254). That’s a form of Evangelicalism needing to face works such as John Sanders’ No Other Name, and Steve Hakes’ Israel’s Gone Global. There is also the common preach from Nate that a missionary is dead (471) – say rather has died, is deceased, yet more alive than ever (“with the lord”, as p465 acknowledges). On the good preach side, probably the best is Nate’s conversion, which seems to raise him above alcoholism, and changes him into a good and humble father. Like Jane, who showed no interest in getting the billions, Nate becomes a convert who can put money into the perspective of servant, not lord. He, like Jane, still falls to lies now and again, though (a healthy sign) it bothers his conscience.
Substantially a good engrossing adult read, which would be improved with the faulty preaching removed, but at the end of the day they can be treated as a few flies in enjoyable ointment (or mosquitoes on an exciting journey). Some life and death struggles. Some good environmental contrasts. Some good character development of many of the main players, stressing nature & nurture. There are even some slight flickers of hope for the dysfunction legitimate kids, but we shouldn’t hold our breaths, especially because by and large they (and their grasping lying lawyers) seem to get far more than they deserve or is good for them, though far less than they had expected, as the legal realities twist and turn more than a Pantanal anaconda.
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