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The Summons [Kindle Edition]

John Grisham
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (914 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep.

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.

With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.

Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.

And perhaps someone else.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from John Grisham's The Litigators.

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

Beck offers a fine performance in this no-frills production of Grisham's latest, despite its lack of overall narrative zip. University of Virginia law professor Ray Atlee stumbles upon more than $3 million in cash in the rural Mississippi house of his dead father, then tries to discover the source of the money and elude an increasingly persistent and menacing extortionist. Beck is a dynamic reader and excels at tackling the challenge of capturing the characters' Southern twang in the story's dialogue. Ray's voice is refined and authoritative, while that of his black sheep brother, Forrest, carries a slight crack that befits a person lacking in confidence and maturity. Family friend and local lawyer Harry Rex stands out the most, and Beck also deftly portrays a smarmy, boozing Delta attorney who calls himself the "King of the Torts." But even with these intriguing, well-rounded characters and a nice evocation of the legal system's more unsavory machinations, the plot won't move listeners to the edge of their seats. Beck, however, does well with what he has, which is a decently written but rather sluggish tale of suspense with a quirky cast and one good twist at the end. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1203 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345531981
  • Publisher: Dell (March 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003B02PC2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How finding 3 million dollars changes people's lives February 24, 2002
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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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Come On John! February 18, 2002
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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Summons: Which brother knows himself better? February 12, 2008
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment February 7, 2002
By Nick G
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as always grisham has another winner with characters, plot and setting
Published 1 day ago by Richard A. Fusco
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of john grisham's best books. Got tired of Freddie's addition...
Not one of john grisham's best books. Got tired of Freddie's addition n Ray wagging that money all over South Dixie. Mary n Texas
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 4 days ago by James Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good for a used book
Published 8 days ago by MlO
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite believable
A pretty gripping book that ends up in not quite a believable manner. Still pretty enjoyable. Three stars only for this one.
Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner for Grisham
An intriguing story with many unexpected twists and turns.
Published 9 days ago by Marian Nephew
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked the plot but disappointed in the ending
Liked the plot but disappointed in the ending ... left much to be desired after what I thought was a likeable plot.
Published 12 days ago by Loving Life More
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked the writing style and content of this author
First book I read from JG. Picked it up in an office setting and couldn't put it down. Borrowed it for a few weeks, finished it and returned it. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Bruce
3.0 out of 5 stars Thin Plot And Disappointing
John Grisham's novel entitled The Summons tells the story of Ray Atlee.He has a sick father who lives at Clanton Mississippi who happens to be a judge and a powerful official in... Read more
Published 19 days ago by DESERTMAN40
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Suspenseful and a page turner.
Published 26 days ago by Deborah Martin
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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

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