Troy Phelan, a 78-year-old eccentric and the 10th-richest man in America, is about to read his last will and testament, divvying up an estate worth $11 billion. Phelan's three ex-wives, their grasping offspring, a legion of lawyers, several psychiatrists and a plethora of sound technicians wait breathlessly. However, the magnate shocks everyone with a bizarre, last-gasp attempt to redistribute the spoils, setting in motion a legal morality tale of a contested will, sin, and redemption.
Reviewed on 29th October 2010
Grisham stretches his wings slightly with this novel, in which a rich old man writes an unusual will and leaves his lawyers to sort its execution. This leads alcoholic lawyer on a life changing mission to the South American jungles as Grisham attempts to write something more thriller than legal.
Overall, I'd say it was a success. I found the early chapters which established the characters and plot a little slow going, particularly with the large cast that was introduced before we even got to the main protagonist. Once the opening formalities were over though things really took off, with jungle adventures taking up the middle third and finally the typical legal wranglings. Grisham proves here that he can write other material, and it's no surprise that his first non-legal fiction follows soon after.
The plot certainly picked up in the later parts of the book, and though I found some of the religion grating at times, it is a product of the American religious climate and it was treated truly to the characters. Although I have little first hand experience the alcoholism was well portrayed and I found Nate to be one of the most rounded characters Grisham has created.
Although at the start I had my doubts this is actually a good, believable and well written novel, and I hope Grisham continues to get more realism and adventure into his later novels.