The Summons Hardcover – 5 Feb 2002
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An intelligent, low-key thriller, The Summons continues John Grisham's exploration of the common decencies of a strain of American commercial story-telling in literature and film that we often link to the work of Frank Capra or O Henry. He is not afraid of parable or of setting up situations that are at once archetypal and attractively specific. This is a tale of two brothers--one is righteous, more or less, and one is not--and a question of their inheritance. Ancient Mississippi judge Atlee summons his two sons to his deathbed, but dies before he can explain himself, leaving Ray, who arrives on time unlike his drunkard brother Forest with the difficult problem of the three million dollars in used notes which are lying around the house in shoe-boxes. Ray worries about his father's posthumous reputation, about the Inland Revenue Service and about how quickly Forrest could drink himself to death with unlimited funds.
Grisham is very acute indeed on how the best of intentions lead Ray not to any significant crime or atrocity but to quietly unconscionable behaviour. And then he realises he is being followed... Grisham can build suspense out of remarkably little and has a real gift for understanding the quiet anxieties of an ordinary man. --Roz Kaveney
All of Clanton, Mississippi, came out to pay their respects to the late Judge Atlee. Even though he had been ousted from office nearly 10 years previously he was held in high esteem by his legal colleagues and all those he helped either through the courts or through his endless charity. His two sons, Ray, a Professor of Law and Forrest, a dissolute alcoholic and substance abuser, are the only heirs. Following a summons from their father a week earlier, Ray arrives in Clanton first to discover his father already dead from cancer in the family home. Before his brother arrives he makes the bewildering discovery of $3million in cash, carefully packed away in boxes in a side cabinet. Unwilling to tell Forrest of his discovery in case he squanders his share on drugs and alcohol, Ray begins a journey to discover its origin. Thus begins a tale of tawdry casinos, intimidation and crooked tort lawyers. A return to the legal settings after his diversion in "The Painted House", this is an easy read, and pleasant enough, addressing both the moral dilemmas involved in such a discovery and the difficult relationships that can exist within a family.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Finding 3 million dollars in your dead fathers house is a good idea, but Grisham does not really develop the plot. The book is basically about what to do with it. Keep it, or give some to the brother who incidently is a drug addict and the money could destroy him? Yawn. There are so many possibilities for the plot, but they are under developed and the ending is rubbish. There is no action and fast pace like previous Grisham novels. Disappointing, but I recommend all other John Grisham titles!!
I'm left wondering if such a poor novel would have been published if it didn't have the Grisham name. I rather think not. The plot, for what it's worth, centres around Clanton County (of A Time to Kill fame). Ray Atlee returns to his father's home. His father's a judge. So how come there's million of dollars in readies everywhere? SO WHAT?!
NOthing much happens for almost 300 pages. There's a strange artsy-written ending. I'm just so disappointed.
My advice, then, is to look elsewhere for thriller-writing talent. I would strongly recommend three novels for those who want to try something else: TELL NO ONE by Harlan Coben, not a legal thriller as such, but a cracking read. The White Road by John Connolly - set in the Deep South, but more intriguing than The Summons. POWER OF ATTORNEY by Dexter Dias, a legal thriller in every sense of the word: about the twists and turns of the law - and THRILLING!
Sorry Mr G, but you've lost it.
But, it was readable, even at low ebb Grisham can still get the reader turning pages. Unfortunately at the end of this one only shrugs ones shoulders and moves on. Where's the pace, the energy of the early books I wonder. Is Grisham written out and should he take a sabbatical himself. I think there are clues in the novel; the professor is on the edge of a sabbatical, there is a book that he needs to write but it's only a chore to him. I suspect Grisham is right there with him. Take a break John, and come back refreshed and stronger
I was very disappointed. There was, I'd admit, some sense of time and place but really, beyond that, I found it lacked pace and was not exactly gripping. I gave it 2 stars as I did finish it - mainly I skipped lots of paragraphs in an effort to get ahead in the hope of being gripped further on.
This was very disappointing as I felt it was a good story let down in the telling - not a crime in itself but somehow made worse when chosen as a book by a very successful writer. I'm not sure if I should give jg a second chance by trying another...