The King of Torts
Well, as I read the book, a Tort is essentially a large class action law suit. The main character starts out the book working for almost no money in a tiny office at the department of Public Defenders. They are the people who defend the probably guilty people who can not afford their own lawyers. He works in Washington DC where there is a very large poor black population. He is assigned a murder case with a young man who did in fact commit the crime, but has no history of violence, and has no idea why he just felt the need to go out and shoot someone. Yes, he's a druggie, but has been off drugs for over 100 days now. He wasn't under the influence of anything at the time of the murder. The main character is soon approached by a shady fellow from one of the major drug manufacturers. Apparently there was drug that was being tested illegally to cure drug addiction. It worked fantastically, but in about 8% of the population, it causes people to randomly just go kill someone. The company wants to bury this. It has discontinued testing, and will in the future deny the fact that the drug ever existed. The Shady fellow will not disclose the maker of the drug. This sounds like a great story doesn't it! I was all excited and ready for a great mystery as the main character finds hard proof, defends his poor black drugie client and takes on the big medical company. I see him becoming famous for exposing said company, and changing the world. This does not happen.
Had Grisham followed this story line, I probably would have loved the book. I love a good thriller or mystery. He doesn't. The shady character works for the big bad company and asks our main character to sell his soul. He offers him $15 million to hand off his poor client to someone else, turn to the other side and represent the murder victims as a result of the drug. He will contact them, sign them up, offer them $5 million each and make them sign papers saying they can never reveal the existence of the drug. He has a choice here to continue to represent his client, who was also a victim of this medical company, but doesn't. He goes for the money. The rest of the book is his story is our main character following future tips from the same shady character, making millions of dollars off of faulty drugs (none of which were as bad as the first 1) and completely forgetting about the clients that he is supposed to be protecting. He gets caught up in the wealth, gets a trophy girl friend, a jet, a yacht, and other toys. I spent a good portion of the book hoping that he falls on his butt because his actions just disgusted me. Grisham adds to this disgust by reminding you periodically what the result of his actions are on his poor clients. I kept reading the book simply to see how Grisham could possibly end this in a positive way. The reader wants the main character to fall, but he's still a fairly nice guy, so you don't want him to go to jail or something. That is a pretty sad reason to read a book. I will say that somehow Grisham managed to end it in a respectable way. I was amazed at his ability to do that.
So, John Grisham is a good writer. He managed to salvage a very crappy story line. My big question is, though, why didn't he just run with the good story line that he had at the beginning? The book would have been MUCH better if it had been about the hero lawyer exposing and taking on the drug company on behalf of his victimized murdering client than him getting rich and egocentric through the book. If you have a desire to read this book, go for it, but like I said, my review of it can be summed up in "Eh".