THE KING OF TORTS
John Grisham


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Doubleday, 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Clay Carter III, a promising young attorney whose career has stalled in the Washington D.C. Public Defender's office, becomes the court appointed attorney of an ex-drug addicted murderer. Tequila Watson, on a two hour pass from Camp Deliverance, a treatment program for hardened drug addicts, shoots and kills a young man for no apparent reason. The police assume this is another random killing, but when Carter begins to investigate he meets a mysterious stranger with some surprising facts about a new drug used by Watson to treat his addiction. Carter soon finds himself involved in a deal with a powerful pharmaceutical company. With enough money to open his own law firm he's in a position to pursue new cases for potentially massive settlements. Clay Carter III is dubbed "The King of Torts" in the media. Now intoxicated by his newfound success, Carter's greed and hubris leads him down a path to becoming the kind of lawyer he despises: "...find'em, sign'em. Settle'em, take the money and run."

THE KING OF TORTS is a cautionary tale of those seduced by greed and wealth. This is the dramatic story of the rise and fall of Clay Carter, a simple and likable man whose morality and integrity is challenged by sudden success. Carter loses his longtime girlfriend Rebecca because he isn't successful enough for her parents, and then suddenly he become a wealthy man with a trophy girlfriend on his arm.

Grisham gives us a behind the scenes view of lawyers who make massive amounts of money from class action lawsuits. It's a fascinating, relevant, and sometimes dark and cynical picture of the legal profession. The next time you see a lawyer advertising a class action lawsuit you will automatically remember THE KING OF TORTS. The final wrap up comes rather unexpectedly. Well written, this is Grisham's fifteenth novel. I am a huge fan, but this is not my favorite. The romantic relationship was a disappointment, and lacked the kind of character development that makes readers care deeply.

April 2004 Review

 

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