Book Review, The Summons by John Grisham

By MILT GROSS | Nov 25, 2012
Photo by: Milt Gross John Grishsam’s The Summons was as good a tale as any of his I’ve read. A good mystery, lots of tension, and a basically satisfying, if not happy, ending.

For a guy who trained to be a lawyer, John Grisham write’s a pretty good mystery story.

The Summons begins with a college law professor being summoned by his dying father to return home. No reason given.

Ray Atlee’s trip to the family home -- an old mansion -- in Clanton, Mississippi leads to a tantalizing mystery and a tantalizing dilemma for Atlee. What to do about and with the nearly $3 million he finds in 27 boxes hidden behind a sofa in the family mansion. Judge Atlee, Ray’s father, can’t explain it to him, because the judge is....well, he turns out to be dead.

The mystery thickens, thins, takes Ray to gambling casinos, has him shot at, and otherwise made more uncomfortable than any reader ever wants to be.

As in all the Grisham novel’s I’ve read, which, if I remember, includes, The Firm, The Client, The Pelican Brief, and possibly more of his 25 novels, described by Wikipedia as legal thrillers, this one brings the conclusion and climax to you slowly and steadily. No sudden shots that end it all. No catching the bad guy red-handed...although the bad guy does ‘fess up in this tale of suspense. It comes together gradually, as would, I suppose, a lawyer’s carefully developed legal case. But it comes together, and is a surprise ending, nonetheless.

In addition to The Summons, published in 2002 by Doubleday, and the legal thrillers, Grisham’s credits include three “Theodore Boone” books, a short story, and two non-fiction books with seven of his works adapted as movies.*

John Grisham, the second oldest of five siblings, was born in Arkansas, according to Wikipedia. His father worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer, while his mother was a homemaker. When Grisham was four years old, his family started traveling around the South, until they finally settled in Mississippi.  As a child, Grisham wanted to be a baseball player. Despite the fact that Grisham's parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged her son to read and prepare for college, the online free encyclopedia states.

He attended a community college a university in Cleveland, graduated from Mississippi State University, and earned a degree to become a tax lawyer at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Grisham and his wife, have two children. The family divides their time between a farm in Mississippi and a home in Virginia, according to Wikipedia. To round off his activities, he teaches Sunday school at a Baptist church.

While I sometimes wonder how his life would be had he become a lawyer and made that his career, I’m glad he didn’t.

I always know his writing will be fast, vivid, dramatic, a bit frightening as the reader places himself into the role of the lead character, and suspenseful.

You can find his books almost anywhere, book stores, online, or at a car dealer book exchange, where I found my copy.

A great author with stories that make a great read.

*I’m not sure that the Wikipedia count of Grisham’s works is up to date. This entry appears to be an older one.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.