I really enjoy John Grisham. I know, that there are several critics out there that will claim he is highly overrated. There is a belief, that a John Grisham novel tends to be rather predictable and formulaic. I admit that Grisham novels aren't known for their shocking swerve or twist ending. I'll also go on record to say that shocking swerves and twist endings are highly overrated. Most stories tend to be sacreficed in the name of a twist or shock. I like to be surprised but I would rather be able to be entertained for a duration. The formula of shock often leads to head scratching as you realize this twist contradicts almost everything you had originally read or saw. In the sake of a twist, the author decided to ignore the story that had been set up for the last 250 pages. I'm sure many of you know excatly what I'm talking about. The mystery where the murderer ends up being the best friend that couldn't logically have done it. Sure it was a twist and a shock but it also didn't have a lick of logic behind it. The point of this rant, you may ask? I admit John Grisham doesn't throw in lots of shock and surprises; but I also think he is one of the most solid modern storytellers. He is one of the easiest reads you can find today. He goes the conventional route but in this case, I think it is the better idea.
'King of Torts' is no exception to this Grisham novel rule. It's not packed with a lot of surprises. I had a solid idea of where the story was heading about halfway through. I had a great time getting there. I spent most of my free time this last week devouring the words of this book. If it wasn't for some very pleasant visits from some very pleasant friends then I'm sure this book would have been finished much sooner. I think that is the best endorsement I can give this book -- I really couldn't pry myself away from it for a long time.
'King of Torts' is the story of Clay Carter,a D.C. Public Defender. Clay was on the fast track of being a big time defense lawyer. He would have been a major part of his father's massive firm. Unfortunately, circumstance prevailed and his father had to leave the country before Clay graduated from Yale. His father's firm was no more by the time Clay was a true lawyer. Carter had been in the Office of Public Defenders for 5 years now and didn't see any signs of upward progression. Until he stumbled upon the case of a lifetime. A young, black man, named Tequila Watson, had shot another man in the head which instantly killed the man. Watson had no history of violence but he was a former crack addict. Clay started to meet with Watson and saw no signs of violence in the kid. Clay started to do research into what would have caused Watson to suddenly want to kill. It was then that Clay was tracked down by a man named Max Pace. Carter learned about a drug that was used to break the addiction to cocaine and opium. It was the miracle drug because itself was not addictive yet it totally unhooked addicts. There was one side effect. 8% of users would suddenly get the urge to kill. Not really the most desirable thing from a drug. Pace arranged a deal where Clay would find the 7 victims families and have them settle for 5 millions each. The deal was that they would never mention about the drug. This deal all of sudden made Clay a rich man. Pace gave Clay the lead on another faulty drug which would turn Carter into the new King of Torts.
It's a fascinating story of Clay wrestling with greed, guilt and fame. Clay starts off as a very grounded person. He has strong beliefs. There are things that Clay promises that he will never do. Once Clay's fame begins to rise and his succes grows then he slowly forgets all those promises and beliefs. The story becomes a tragedy as you start to watch Clay become a new person and you begin to fear for when the fall must happen. It's a telling tale of the dangers of money and fame. It's a tale written by a true master.
The story is full of many interesting characters. Grisham does a great job of fleshing out each person in the novel. Everyone has their own distinct personality and they all seem so real. The best part, everyone is truly flawed to some extent. No one in this book is perfect and no one is a true hero. Just like the reality of life. But there are moments that people shine and you can see the true good in them. This is what makes the characters so endearing and engaging. Despite being flawed, you get to see the true good most of them have. The moment these characters do step up and do the right thing it seems so much more powerful after you see what they had overcame.
If you enjoy Grisham, then I highly recommend this book. There is a lot of legal talk and a lot of stock jargon. Grisham is such an accomplished writer that these moments never seem dull. I was amazed that such boring matter could keep me so gripped. From a true Grisham fan, I recommend all others to give this one a read.