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The Summons Kindle Edition

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Length: 386 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
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Editorial Reviews Review

Law professor Ray Atlee and his prodigal brother, Forrest, are summoned home to Clanton, Mississippi, by their ailing father to discuss his will. But when Ray arrives the judge is already dead, and the one-page document dividing his meager estate between the two sons seems crystal clear. What it doesn't mention, however, is the small fortune in cash Ray discovers hidden in the old man's house--$3 million he can't account for and doesn't mention to brother Forrest, either.

Ray's efforts to keep his find a secret, figure out where it came from, and hide it from a nameless extortioner, who seems to know more about it than he does, culminate in a denouement with an almost biblical twist. It's a slender plot to hang a thriller on, and in truth it's not John Grisham's best in terms of pacing, dramatic tension, and interesting characters (except for Harry Rex, a country lawyer who was the judge's closest friend and in many ways is the father Ray wishes he'd had. He's so vivid he jumps off the page). But Grisham's legions of fans are likely to enjoy The Summons even if it lacks the power of some of his classic earlier books, like The Firm, The Brethren, and The Testament. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Last year's historical family drama A Painted House and the Christmas satire Skipping Christmas demonstrated that Grisham is willing to take risks. But fans of his legal thrillers already knew that, with his last three, particularly The Testament, making Play-Doh of the rules of the genre. Sometimes Grisham's friskiness works, and sometimes it doesn't. There's much to admire in his newest thriller, particularly his colorful evocation of a Deep South legal setting, his first use of this milieu since his debut novel, A Time to Kill, and some finely drawn characters. Even so, this isn't one of his most satisfying books, for while the narrative engages, it never catches fire. The setup is prime Grisham: Ray Atlee, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, is summoned home to Clanton, Miss., to the deathbed of his father, legendary judge Reuben V. Atlee; also summoned is Ray's younger brother, Forrest, a chronic drug abuser. Ray arrives home first, to find the judge dead and more than $3 million stored in boxes in a cabinet cash not mentioned in the judge's will and whose source baffles Ray. Grisham does a wonderful job of digging into Ray's increasingly frazzled head as, stunned, the professor decides to keep the money a secret, even from Forrest, and to safeguard it until he figures out what to do. Greed, frayed nerves and fear plague Ray during the coming weeks, as he investigates, scrambling from one hideout to the next, becoming ever more aware that someone dangerous is following him and wants the money. Several scenarios Ray's indulging his passion for flying small planes; his playing some of the cash at casinos to test it for counterfeiting; his dealings with screwed-up Forrest and his father's cronies, notably an ex-mistress and a wily old attorney propel the story, and Ray, forward to the source of the money, a revelation that allows Grisham to take his usual swipes at big lawyerism but which will register for many as anticlimactic though there's a final twist that as nifty and unexpected as anything Grisham has wrought. Grisham's writing is silky smooth here, his storytelling captivating; but the novel's lack of action a stone thrown through a window is as violent as it gets and the dissipation of all tension too far from the end make this, while a clever tale, one that's just too quiet. Grisham's fans might as well trim their nails while reading this, because they sure won't be biting them.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1203 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345531981
  • Publisher: Dell (March 9, 2010)
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003B02PC2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,169 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What would you do if you suddenly found three million dollars? And what if that money came from a deceased parent's home? This is the dilemna at the heart of this book.
If you're expecting another Grisham legal thriller, don't buy this one. This one is far less about legal battles than moral ones. Unfortunately, the plot just doesn't hold together all that well and even the moral struggles, as described here, aren't all that engaging. Grisham isn't in top form here.
For one thing, Ray Atlee, the dead judge's son who finds the money, isn't even that riveting or likeable a guy. Secondly, there are plenty of plot holes and illogical moves. Ray, for instance, discloses the whereabouts of the money to people who are almost complete strangers. Why would he do this? Made no sense to me.
Still, this book did make me wonder what I would do with a sudden windfall of three million plus change. But I've read a much better book about this, A Simple Plan, a book about three men who find a fortune in a crashed plane. A Simple Plan is wonderfully written, suspenseful and darkly realistic. But save your bucks and avoid The Summons.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jason R. Stancil on February 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid Grisham fan and have been waiting anxiously for him to return to the legal thriller genre. However, I just finished the book (two days to read) and am more than a little disappointed with this effort. The protagonist, Ray Atlee is a law professor who is summoned, along with his brother, to their estranged, dying father's house in Mississippi to discuss his estate prior to his impending death. What is discovered only by Ray (you think) is that the old man had more than $3 million hidden in his house. Where did the money come from? Who else knew about the money? This is the set-up and Ray's quest to hide the money while trying to find out its origin really did hold my attention throughout the book. But, it was the last 30 pages that hacked me off. Mr. Grisham cut things way short here. The relationship between the brothers was in serious lack of development given the ridiculous ending that he throws at you. Beware, this book will leave you asking, "What was Mr. Grisham thinking when he hit the 'print' button on his latest work?"
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Gary V. Jones on March 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have read almost all of Grisham's books and really enjoyed them. The Summons was so slow and never really got started.
I stayed with it thinking it had to get better. It didn't.
The characters were weak and the plot didn't have much to offer.
I ended up skipping parts because they were so boring. As I turned the last page, all I could think was what a waste of time.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Nick G on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's newly single, and about to find out a shocking family secret.
Judge Atlee is a beloved and powerful judge, but he is sick, very sick, and it's a matter of time before he dies. Knowing his time is coming closer to an end, the judge summons his two sons, Ray, and Forrest, the black sheep who is trying desperately to stay sober. Wanting to settle the matter of his estate, Judge Atlee awaits the arrival of his sons, but unfortunately he dies before he sees them, leaving behind a deadly legacy.
Ray, being the first to arrive, is shocked by the news of his father's death, but even more shocking is the discovery of a bag containing an obscene amount of money hidden in the house. Keeping the money a secret from Forrest is the first of Ray's obstacles, for as he begins tracing the origin of the money he finds he is not the only person aware of it...
Desperate, and on the run, Ray must find his answers, or he will die trying.
`The Summons' is not a good book at all; not only is it boring, but it's confusing, and where the plot could have been suspenseful it's dry. The story opens quickly, but takes major turns with the introduction of various characters and sub plots. If the story stayed focused on the main plot it would have been interesting, instead it takes detours and becomes tiresome.
John Grisham is a good storyteller, but where he was the king of the legal thriller he is now opting to spread his wings and lead his stories into straight fiction, and it's not working. After a series of major bestsellers, Grisham is losing steam, and the punch of his earlier novels is lacking in his newer titles.
Fans of the novels `The Firm', `The Client', and `The Partner' will highly disappointed with `The Summons'.
Nick Gonnella
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Morgan Cahall on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ray and Forrest are the sons of old judge Atlee, who's health is rapidly declining. Ray is a successful law professor who widely respected and popular with his students. Forrest is the black sheep of the family and has proably tried every illegal susbstance there is and been to every detox facility on the map. Both son's are summoned by the judge to hear what he has in his will before he passes. Both come reluctanly due to the strained relationship that they have, for various reasons, with their father. Ray arrives first and find that the old judge has passed away. In his shock and grief he starts rummaging around looking for the will the judge left when he stumbles upon some boxs he has never seen before. To his amazement these boxes contain over 3 million dollars. Before Ray has time to think his brother shows up. What does Ray do? What follows is a story about family secrets, greed, and judgement.
To me this was a pretty good story. It follows a group of people who were family but were never very good at communicating with each other. The father passes away and the "good" son finds some money that old man had stowed away. Almost imeediatley the son becomes paranoid about the money and doesnt tell his brother about it. The thing with that was that before the judge passed away he had written a new will saying that a good amount of any money found or in the estate was to go in a trust find for the "bad" brother to be used to help him get his life straightened out and the "bad" brother knew this while the "good" brother didn't. How Forrest "tests" Ray and how the book ends was different and interesting. I would recommend this to any one who likes John Grisham and any one who likes stories where who was right and who was wrong is a little unclear.
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