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The Chamber Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1995

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Mass Market Paperback, April 1, 1995
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Editorial Reviews Review

"The decision to bomb the office of the radical Jew lawyer was reached with relative ease." So begins Grisham's legal leviathan The Chamber, a 676-page tome that scrutinizes the death penalty and all of its nuances--from racially motivated murder to the cruel and unusual effects of a malfunctioning gas chamber.

Adam Hall is a 26-year-old attorney, fresh out of law school and working at the best firm in Chicago. He might have been humming Timbuk 3's big hit, "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades," if it wasn't for his psychotic Southern grandfather, Sam Cayhall. Cayhall, a card-carrying member of the KKK, is on death row for killing two men. Knowing his uncle will surely die without his legal expertise, Hall comes to the rescue and puts his dazzling career at stake, while digging up a barnyard of skeletons from his family's past. Grisham fans expecting the typical action-packed plot should ready themselves for a slower pace, well-fleshed-out characters, and heavy doses of sentimentalism.

From Publishers Weekly

Tie-in edition with the forthcoming movie starring Gene Hackman and Faye Dunaway.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 676 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440220602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440220602
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (511 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,052,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

Photo credit Maki Galimberti

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on May 12, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At first, I thought the title referred to a judge's chambers, but this is actually a book about the gas chamber. It took me a litttle while, but after the halfway point I was really connected with the characters and involved with the book. Grisham manages to make the reader just as torn as the other characters about whether Sam deserves to/should die in the gas chamber for his crimes. I got totally immersed in the book, and spent a lot of time contemplating the death penalty in general. This is a masterful story and a good book for anyone who wants to look at the grey areas of the law and what is right and wrong.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Samantha Moore on November 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For a former lawyer who has never witnessed a death row case, John Grisham's ability to portray such a case was impeccable. John Grisham tells the story of an ex-KKK member who is on death row for the murder of two young boys, and his defense attorney is his estranged grandson. Grisham was able to capture all the emotion and reality of an inmate's life on death row, and the lives of the inmate's family, as though death row cases were part of his daily routine. The Chamber is a complex novel about a controversial and painful topic to which almost every person has an opinion. During Grisham's time as an attorney he represented people accused of a variety of crimes, but never a capital murder case. John Grisham used the expertise of lawyers and members of the judicial system to learn about all aspects of a death row inmate's life and their cases. The Chamber is intended for an adult audience who has an interest in the controversial topic of the death penalty that causes them to reflect upon personal views and beliefs.
The Chamber is a compelling story of a family's deep, dark secrets that have been hidden from everyone, including each other... The book captures the reader's attention during the first chapter...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I feel so sad when reading some of the reviews. One of the most recent ones even commented the book is horrible. It really disheartens me to see that many of the reasons given are usually saying the story is not nteresting, no plots ....etc.I really would like to say something for the book. I agree that The Chamber is not John Grisham's best book. When you compare it to fast-paced stories like The Firm or Pelican Brief, of course, you would not find the same style. Interesting plots and page-turner for sure will attract most readers, but I actually love this book.
May be it's true that it lacks the twists of many other books, but I believe Mr.Grisham wants to show us something different in this book. It tells us not all the lawsuits or related cases are interesting and make your heart rate fastened. Some of them may not be as interesting, but they are very real cases. Instead of victory all the times (which I believe most of the readers want), we can see the desperation in this book: when you try all your best but still cannot create a miracle because life is life.
We see the main character, Adam Hall, his desperation, his struggles, his frustrations. It is a great character. My heart follows Adam's when the story goes. Despite the missing excitement, yet I find myself totally involved in the sentiments of the story. The end of the story is so sad that I find my tears running down. I respect Adam's final decision and deep down in my heart, I wish I can be his very best friend, sharing his sorrows.
One final word, I have to say that if you are too keen on the style applied in books like The Firm, this one might disappoint you, but why not try something different and use your heart to read the book instead of your mind.
(Also recommend: The Rainmaker, which resemebles the simplicity of this book)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Kettlewell on September 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was well aware of the popularity of Grisham before reading anything by him, and was quite surprised that such a 'bestseller' didn't fall into a formula plot. Admittedly he was well established before publishing this one - maybe the others are more conventionally pleasing?
There are hints of thriller, and (in my mind) pretty much the assumption of a dramatic courtroom climax, but while either would have fitted easily with the content of the book, Grisham rejects them both.
Rather the novel centres entirely on the anatomy of the final days before an execution. There's actually very little action to speak of, but a lot of dialogue, and reams of detailed narration of physical and judicial institutions. Rather than the pieces of the crime gradually being revealed, with a savage and vital twist forcing the pace, the opening chapters of the book simply relate precisely what happened in a neutral tone, revealing to three decimal places the exact degree of guilt of the defendant. So instead of the standard adrenaline ride of tracking down the 'real' guilty parties while dodging bullets and falling in love, we already know most of the salient details in the first few chapters.
What takes the book beyond being little more than a dramatised documentary is the personal/family aspect of our young hotshot lawyer (Adam) actually getting to know his ex-KKK grandfather (Sam) while representing him. How did some of these awful things go on in his family? How does the perpetrator feel about them now? Characters appear and recede only as far as they relate to the final days on this death row case. Several seemingly central characters turn out to be red herrings - or, at least, they would if this was a whodunit.
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