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The Summons [Paperback]

John Grisham
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (684 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2005
Once Judge Atlee was a powerful figure in Clanton, Mississippi--a pillar of the community who towered over local law and politics for forty years. Now the judge is a shadow of his former self, a sick, lonely old man who has withdrawn to his sprawling ancestral home. Knowing the end is near, Judge Atlee has issued a summons for his two sons to return to Clanton to discuss his estate. Ray Atlee is the eldest, a Virginia law professor, newly single and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. Forrest is Ray’s younger brother, who redefines the notion of a family’s black sheep.

The summons 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 and now prefers 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.

From the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love John Grisham books April 29 2014
By Edward
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This one was especially good. Love the twists at the end of his books. Have read most of his books.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Skip This One! Sept. 18 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I was extremely disappointed with this book. Almost no suspense and a lacklustre plot. Well below John Grisham's standards. There are far better Grisham novels out there. Skip this one!
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the problems of being a lawyer is that you can start to think like one all too much of the time. For those who are most fascinated by the law, the favorite intellectual game is to pose ever more complex scenarios to test what is the right solution. John Grisham clearly thought he was writing a law school hypothetical problem when he penned this novel . . . which will leave those who aren't lawyers puzzled, troubled, and disgruntled.

From a legal and personal perspective, this book raises some nice ethical questions:

1. What is the obligation to protect the reputation and memory of a deceased person?

2. How should an addict be protected from hurting himself?

3. How far should potentially illegal activities be pursued by an attorney who is an executor of an estate?

4. How should protecting property be weighed against protecting life?

5. Can you overcome the temptation to run off with something that no one knows you have found?

Attorney and law professor Ray Atlee is faced with all of those issues and more when he returns home to find his father dead and the living room filled with stationery boxes bursting with cash. First, he wants to know if the cash is counterfeit or part of some illegal activity. Second, he is concerned that his brother not go on a long cocaine-sniffing holiday from which he might not survive. Third, he's afraid someone will walk off with the money. Fourth, he begins to think how nice it would be to avoid paying taxes on the money. Fifth, he dreams about having it all to himself.

But life isn't that simple. Someone else seems to know about the money, and they are getting aggressive about retrieving it. What will Ray do?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not for most Grisham fans. June 22 2011
By J Reader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Summons differs from the bulk of Grisham's body of work in that it relies heavily on suspense and contains very little action. I enjoyed reading this book the lead character was compelling and the story held my interest throughout.

This is a psychological drama where the bulk of suspense occurs in the imagination of the lead character. I can understand why a Grisham fan would not enjoy this book. It doesn't fit his typical mold.

However if you enjoy a good suspense that gets you thinking you may find enjoyment in this book. I did.
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1.0 out of 5 stars What's happened to Grisham? April 29 2004
I've loved this author's earlier books, but is he turning out to be like so many who turn out a good novel or two, then, in order to keep the$ coming in, churns out new ones even when they're not worth reading? In earlier novels I have always admired a certain, admittedly far-fetched, logic to the unravelling of the story. Don't look for that in this one. We begin to understand why the protagonist's wife decided to leave him abruptly sometime in the past. His actions are so unreasonable as to stretch credulence. As others have said, it IS a page-turner, and the faster the pages turn, the better. The rather predictable "surprise" ending just dribbles away to a conclusion, with nothing there. In short, check this book out of the library if you've got to have something to read for a summer trip, but don't expect much.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have been, and still am, a big fan of John Grisham since 1995 when I read "The Pelican Brief". His books are still good after all this time and even better!
The story goes about a professor who receives a note from his father, who is dying of cancer and hasn't gotten along very well, asking him please to come back to the hometown for discussing his last will.
As soon as he arrives, he finds his father dead and discovers more than 3 million dollars in cash hidden inside a cabinet. No time has he to think about this "mostly unusual" discovery when his younger brother, an addict and the family's disgrace, arrives.
The professor decides to hide his finding from almost everyone, except one person who knows about the money too and tries to recover it...
The plot is really well written, entertaining and has an almost unusual and perhaps unexpected ending...
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Most Grisham books can be described as having weak characterization but a strong plot or theme ("The Firm" comes to mind). Not this one. Basically, as I read this book, I kept waiting for there to be an actual plot. Forget it. There is no plot to speak of.
Basically (no spoiler here) the protagonist's father is an honest but tyrannical judge. He dies. The protagonist finds a whole lot of cash money in his estate that cannot be explained. Can't be bribes because the judge was honest. So where did the money come from? That's the "plot." You get this in the first few pages. I won't "spoil" the rest, except that there is hardly any more to spoil.
This is one of Grisham's weaker books. It was readable, and his description of the "King of Torts" lawyer was funny, if stereotypical. But make no mistake, there isn't much of a story here. It is almost as though Grisham lost interest in this one even as he was writing it.
I'll give it two stars because it was not so bad that I didn't finish it.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Different Worlds
Ray Atlee is a UVA law professor in Charlottesville, VA and receives the news that his father, Judge Reuben Atlee, has died. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2008 by Douglas P. Murphy
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book very much
I could not put it down until it was done. I cannot think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon. Can't wait to get my hands on the author's next works.
Published on Sept. 24 2005
1.0 out of 5 stars Dumb!
Anyone calling this drivel a pleasent read should have never read anything decent in his life so that he is short of comparing. Read more
Published on July 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars I guess I'm in a minority here - I loved this one
I'd go into the plot but that's been done already. Needless to say I enjoyed reading Ray Atlee's odyssey, well-written by Grisham, with one of those "I can't believe I didn't... Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, quick read
Grisham goes back to Clanton in "The Summons," a book about two brothers and their estranged dad. Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by Moonlight Graham
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I've read in years
This book was so horrible I left it in my hotel room when I was finished. I should have thrown it out so that no one else would be subjected to it. Read more
Published on June 15 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars HAVE A HEART JOHN
Come on John, get a grip ! This book had a scrawny story line which you dragged out to the bitter end. Read more
Published on May 20 2004 by Goodbye
4.0 out of 5 stars I love Grisham, and this is an easy, but entertaining story
This John Grisham suspense-thriller is a true mystery all the way to the end. Set in the Deep South, as in many of his books, this tale is brilliantly written and carries on his... Read more
Published on May 13 2004 by Aliecia Bores
3.0 out of 5 stars GET SUMMONED...
The Summons, is different from any other Grisham book from the point of view and approach, but it always envolved people of the LAW and misterious suspense cases and misteries to... Read more
Published on May 6 2004 by S. Quinto
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