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Summons by John Grisham

John Grisham
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San Val (December 2002)
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Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Thrillers & Suspense

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Book by Grisham, John
  • Kanal
Another Grisham book concluded, definitely an improvement on A Time to Kill in terms of the graphic content in the latter. I guess the problem with this book is that nothing much happens in the first half--it is very slow and takes a long time to really get off the ground.

The story is about two brothers that have led very different lives. One is a responsible professor of law and the other has spent most of his adult life checking in and out of drug rehab facilities. Their father is a prominent and powerful figure but has complicated relationships with his sons. The sons receive an unexpected and unusual summons to visit their highly respected father. They arrive to find that they are too late, dad has died. But why is there three million dollars in cash hidden in the house?

This is probably the best novel I have read that demonstrates the allure and power of money when it gets a grip of a person's soul.

Sitting on the concrete floor with three million dollars strewn around him, he finally admitted how important the money had become. The real horror of last night had been the chance of losing it. Now he was afraid to leave it....In the past few weeks he had become more curious about how much things cost, about what the money could buy, about how it could grow if invested conservatively, or aggressively. At times, he thought of himself as wealthy, and then he would dismiss those thoughts. But they were always there, just under the surface and popping up with greater frequency....One by one the options were being eliminated. He might be forced to keep it himself.

The problem with money and material things is the more we have of them, the more we want. Our hearts will never be satisfied and we will never have enough. Yet, ironically, the more things we have, the more stressed we feel as we are compelled to think about them. It is one of the biggest lies of the enemy to make us think that if only we had this amount of money or that item or that person's lifestyle we would be happy. Not so. The grass will always be greener and we will just become more and more dissatisfied with what we have. Another factor is that we appreciate things more if we have had to work for them. We value them more because they cost us more to get them. Being spoiled by someone or winning a large amount of money won't bring the happiness that might be expected. God is the source of all good gifts and He is the one who allows us to enjoy them.....Life is about people, relationships, faith (God) and not about things!

This novel is worth reading due to the principles it highlights about material wealth and the dangers and pitfalls. It is not especially exciting or dramatic although I definitely didn't guess the twist at the end. It plods along describing the gradual corruption that money can bring to a person's heart and mind leading to a loss of control and willingness to to do things that are out of character.

There is a small amount of bad language, there are no sex scenes and nothing particularly violent. Grisham fans may enjoy it. It is harmless!
  • Ral
Judge Atlee was dying and summoned his two sons, Ray and Forrest with an invitation, "Please make arrangements to appear in my study on Sunday, May 7, at 5 P.M. to discuss the administration of my estate. Sincerely, Reuben V. Atlee."
Ray thought he was in Clanton before Forrest, and went to the study to find that the Judge had died. He looked around for some papers, but instead found 106 thousand dollars. He hid it in the broom closet until he could think what to do with it. His brother Forrest had a drinking and drug problem and had been in and out of rehabs which the Judge always paid for. And then he continued his drinking and drug problem until the next rehab, so Ray didn't think he should tell him about the money. Also, he knew the Judge didn't make that kind of money, and couldn't save that much, either. Where did he get that kind of money?
As the story continues, the money takes priority, the estate is settled, but Ray is usually in a panic because he kept the money in the truck of his car. This goes on for awhile; Ray finds out that his father gambled so Ray tried his had at it, too. He was nervous about the money, and it was too much to put in a bank. Eventually, Forrest drinks too much and ends up in rehab again. There is a great deal of intrigue as Ray's home is ransacked, and he is followed, and harassed. Their family home burns down, and the money is missing. Later, when Forrest is in a very expensive rehab, Ray goes to visit him, and finds out that he had been with his father several days before Ray got there, and helped him with the morphine pump. He also knew about the money before Ray got there. He hired people to scare his brother. and got the money away from Ray. The end discussion was that Ray thought Forrest would waste it on booze and drugs. Forrest was wary of Ray because he gambled with some of the money, and looked at airplanes to buy so he would spend it faster than Forrest would. They tried to reach an agreement after he left Rehab but Forrest remarked that he still was a Professor making a substantial living. Ray suggested they share it, but nothing was decided at the end.
The money was given to the Judge for a favor he did for someone, and they put the money in a bag and left it at his home.