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The Street Lawyer: A Novel [Paperback]

John Grisham
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (983 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 23 2010
Michael Brock is billing the hours, making the money, rushing relentlessly to the top of Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm. One step away from partnership, Michael has it all. Then, in an instant, it all comes undone: A homeless man takes nine lawyers hostage in the firm’s plush offices. When it’s all over, the man’s blood is splattered on Michael’s face—and suddenly Michael is willing to do the unthinkable. Rediscovering a conscience he lost long ago, Michael is leaving the big time for the streets where his attacker once lived—and where society’s powerless need an advocate for justice.

But there’s one break Michael can’t make—from a secret that has floated up from the depths of Drake & Sweeney, from a confidential file that is now in Michael’s hands, and from a conspiracy that has already taken lives. Now Michael’s former partners are about to become his bitter enemies. Because to them, Michael Brock is the most dangerous man on the streets.

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From Amazon

John Grisham is back with his latest courtroom conundrum, The Street Lawyer. This time the lord of legal thrillers dives deep into the world of the homeless, particularly their barely audible legal voice in a world dominated by large, all-powerful law firms. Our hero, Michael Brock, is on the fast track to partnership at D.C.'s premier law firm, Sweeny & Drake. His dream of someday raking in a million-plus a year is finally within reach. Nothing can stop him, not even 90-hour workweeks and a failing marriage--until he meets DeVon Hardy, a.k.a. "Mister," a Vietnam vet with a grudge against his landlord--and a few lawyers to fry. Hardy, with no clear motive, takes Brock and eight of his colleagues hostage in a boardroom, demanding their tax returns and interrogating them with a conviction that would have put perpetrators of the Spanish Inquisition to shame. Hardy, a man of few words and a lot of ammunition, mumbles cryptically, "Who are the evictors?" as he points a .44 automatic within inches of Brock's face. The violent outcome of the hostage situation triggers an abrupt soul-searching for the young lawyer, and Hardy's mysterious question continues to haunt him. Brock learns that Hardy had been in and out of homeless shelters most of his life, but he had recently begun paying rent in a rundown building; that means he has legal recourse when a big money-making outfit such as Sweeny & Drake boots him with no warning. When Brock realizes that his profession caters to the morally challenged, he sets out on an aimless search through the dicier side of D.C., ending up at the 14th Street Legal Clinic. The clinic's director, a gargantuan man named Mordecai Green, woos Brock to the clinic with a $90,000 cut in pay and the chance to redeem his soul. Brock takes it--and some of the story's credibility along with it; it's hard to believe that a Yale graduate who sacrificed everything--including his marriage--to succeed in the legal profession would quickly jump at the opportunity for low-paying, charitable work. However, Brock's search for corruption in the swanky upper echelons of Sweeny & Drake (via the toughest streets of D.C.) is filled with colorful characters and realistic, gritty descriptions. In the The Street Lawyer, Grisham once again defends the voiceless and powerless. In the words of Mordecai Green, "That's justice, Michael. That's what street law is all about. Dignity." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

America's most popular author is arguably its most popular crusader as well, tilting his pen against myriad targets, including big law (The Firm, etc.), big tobacco (The Runaway Jury), big insurance (The Rainmaker) and now, in perhaps his sweetest, shortest novel, against anyone, big or little, who treats the homeless as less than human. The expected powerhouse opening involves the hostage-taking?by an armed, homeless man who calls himself Mister?of nine attorneys of a huge law firm headquartered in D.C. Among the nine is narrator Michael Brock, an antitrust lawyer who receives a faceful of blood when a police sniper blows away Mister's head. "I'm alive! I'm alive," Michael cries like Ebenezer Scrooge, but, like Scrooge, this greedy hotshot is ripe for a moral awakening. The next day, Michael visits the shabby offices of Mister's attorney, Mordecai Green, who explains that Mister and others had been illegally evicted from makeshift housing on orders from a real-estate development company represented by Michael's firm. Inspired by Green and shaken by his firm's complicity, Michael volunteers at a homeless shelter. When a family he meets there dies on the street, and turns out to have been among the evictees, Michael quits his job, goes to work for Green and, using as evidence a file he steals from the firm, aims to sue his former employer on behalf of the evictees. In turn, the firm places Michael in its crosshairs, pressuring him to give up the file through legal maneuvers, having him arrested and hints of darker means. The cat-and-mouse between Michael and the firm is vintage Grisham, intricately plotted, but the emphasis in this smoothly told, baldly manipulative tale is less on action and suspense, which are moderate, than on Michael's change of heart and moving exploration of the world of the homeless. Dickens would be well pleased, and so will Grisham's fans. 2.8 million first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent beach book Dec 24 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book has a decent pace and hits the ground running. That being said, reading this book today in 2012 opens the book up to the charge of a cliched plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisham's most deviant story till date Sept. 16 2003
Format:Hardcover
Most people disappointed with this book complain that it isn't the usual Grisham style. Regardless of whether Grisham is making a political statement about homeless people or not, this book is a GOOD read.
Pro bono work is another aspect of lawyers that Grisham tries to highlight in this book here similar to what he has done with other material like mass torts, mega law firms, racial crimes, underaged witnesses etc. Though this book covers a less glamorous side of the profession (which he openly suggests in the book) which might not make it a fast paces thriller, it is no lesser than any of his other works.
This is the most honest and poignant of his works till date.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't know why.. Aug. 2 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I don't know why so many people are rating this book so low. I personally loved it and think it deserves MORE then 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By John
Format:Mass Market Paperback
...I still liked reading this one. It's one of Grisham's lesser works and a bit too preachy but if you're not looking for anything special it WILL keep your interest. A good, rather mediocre read that's entertaining and not like Grisham's other works, which says something...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I like John Grisham's books but this was really bad April 28 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Okay, its been a while but all i know was that the begining wasn't so bad. He and some of his co-workers are kept hostage by some homeless guy and they're all scared about what this guy is about to do with that gun. Then when the Homeless person comes to open the door for the food, the police blows his brains out. Now that part was really exciting so I kept on reading hoping like that would show up again. But it didn't. The rest of the story is how he does pro bono work and goes after his old company and in the end wins by having his old law firm due pro bono work. All in all, a pretty dumb book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delivery complete Dec 22 2011
By bottine
Format:Paperback
Both books now received. Thank you for replacing the missing order and efficient service. I won't hesitate to reorder with you and recommend your service.
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2.0 out of 5 stars OK, Nothing special June 21 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was my first grisham and it did not work for me. The Street Lawyer is about a young lawyer, who comes close to death when a homeless man holds him hostage, and his sudden changes of lifestyle and thinking. He quits his current job as a hot-shot lawyer after is encounter and becomes extremely into helping the poor. When he finds out about some wrong-doing at his old law firm, he steals a file that tells all. He thinks he got away with it until he gets into a bad car crash and the file is found by the wrong people. The main character is Michael Brock, who begins the story a lawyer in an unhappy marriage. After his encounter with the crazed homeless man, he realizes that homelessness is a problem in Washington DC, where he lives. He joins a small firm that helps only the poor. He and his wife later separate and he moves into an apartment where he sleeps on the floor in an attempt to relate to his customers. Obviously, the book's title is The Street Lawyer because that is what he becomes. I didn't like this book because it was over-the-top dramatic and preachy. I have never read a book by John Grisham, and I guess I was expecting much more. The ending of the book is the worst part; it simply cuts off on the part that is remotely interesting. Before I read this book, I hadn't thought of poverty being in the streets as much as it probably is in the US, and this is the only thing I've learned from this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, Nothing special June 21 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Street Lawyer is about a young lawyer, who comes close to death when a homeless man holds him hostage, and his sudden changes of lifestyle and thinking. He quits his current job as a hot-shot lawyer after is encounter and becomes extremely into helping the poor. When he finds out about some wrong-doing at his old law firm, he steals a file that tells all. He thinks he got away with it until he gets into a bad car crash and the file is found by the wrong people. The main character is Michael Brock, who begins the story a lawyer in an unhappy marriage. After his encounter with the crazed homeless man, he realizes that homelessness is a problem in Washington DC, where he lives. He joins a small firm that helps only the poor. He and his wife later separate and he moves into an apartment where he sleeps on the floor in an attempt to relate to his customers. Obviously, the book's title is The Street Lawyer because that is what he becomes. I didn't like this book because it was over-the-top dramatic and preachy. I have never read a book by John Grisham, and I guess I was expecting much more. The ending of the book is the worst part; it simply cuts off on the part that is remotely interesting. Before I read this book, I hadn't thought of poverty being in the streets as much as it probably is in the US, and this is the only thing I've learned from this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Grisham is not an interior novelist
Just read The Street Lawyer, The Partner and the Broker. I guess JG writes books that can be made into movies - and they are mostly good movies - and then he writes these other... Read more
Published on July 27 2008 by Gustav
3.0 out of 5 stars Never really gets started
The opening scene, with 9 lawyers being taken hostage by a homeless man, starts out pretty intense. But, like the whole book, this scene looses it's luster after a few pages. Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by Tom
2.0 out of 5 stars good lesson, slow story
The Street Lawyer is a novel concentrated on the crude and oblivious outlook the "filthy rich" have on the "lower"(poor) people. Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Mary Currier
5.0 out of 5 stars The Street Lawyer
I had to read this book for school, after that I just kept reading it over and over again! I sat on the edge of my seat every time I read it,I never once got tired of it! Read more
Published on March 27 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars A preachy, paper-thin treatise on politics of the homeless
John Grisham's mastery of the legal thriller has given him the latitude to invoke more than the harmony of a well crafted story into his later works, seasoning tales with perhaps a... Read more
Published on March 22 2004 by David E. Whitney
2.0 out of 5 stars First Grisham read -- might be my last
After seeing all of Grisham's movies and enjoying their fast-paced, psychological and suspense elements, I decided to give reading one of his books a shot. Read more
Published on March 21 2004 by Jacob Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Read with your heart
This book has evoked a certain emotion in me. As someone who has been active in the pursuit of community service, I feel strongly for those less fortunate ones. Read more
Published on March 19 2004 by Wilson Yew
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