The Summons

by John Grisham

Doubleday, February, 2002.
Hardcover, 357 pages.
ISBN: 0385503822

The Summons by John Grisham Ray Atlee is a college law professor at the University of Virginia. His father is a beloved judge in his birthplace, the small town of Clanton, Mississippi, and his brother is a drug abuser and drunk who can't hold a job. Ray receives a letter from his father, who he hasn't spoken to in years, informing him that he is very ill and needs to come back to town to discuss his will. Unfortunately, when Ray arrives at home to visit his father he finds him already dead. Later, he discovers hidden stacks of money in his father's house -- nearly 3 million dollars worth. The will only left him and his brother a few thousand dollars, which was left in a bank account and the house itself. So, where did all this money come from and who else knows about it? Was it even legally earned? Ray is forced to deal with this mysterious money, his problematic brother and the locals while trying to figure out what to do with the money and who to trust.

John Grisham, the bestselling author of exciting legal thrillers such as The Firm, The Testament and The Rainmaker returns to his roots with his latest novel. In The Summons, Grisham introduces Ray Atlee, who thought he would be left with a pittance from his stubborn father, but instead finds three million dollars of unexplained cash in his father's house. Ray is an appealing soul, who struggles with his decisions about what to do with all the money. If he reports it, then he'll have to pay taxes on it and turn over half of the money to his brother, who will surely waste the money on drugs. If he doesn't report it, then someone could turn him in. And in any event, someone who knows about the money could come after him. Grisham's latest novel starts slowly, almost too slowly for a Grisham novel, but really builds as Ray begins exploring casinos as a source of his father's mysterious cash. The information about how the FBI can trace money and the inner-workings of the casinos along the Mississippi river add interest to the novel -- readers will definitely learn something along the way. The Summons is a return to legal thrillers, after a brief departure to more literary works with A Painted House. Fortunately for Grisham legal thriller fans, he is under contract to write at least two more legal thrillers.

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This review was published in the March, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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