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John Grisham is the author of Skipping Christmas, A Painted House, The Brethren, The Testament, The Street Lawyer, The Partner, The Runaway Jury, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and A Time to Kill.
In his latest, Grisham returns to Ford County, MS, the setting of A Time To Kill. No plot details, but the promotion proclaims, "The court is back in session." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
All of Clanton, Mississippi, came out to pay their respects to the late Judge Atlee. Even though he had been ousted from office nearly 10 years previously he was held in high esteem by his legal colleagues and all those he helped either through the courts or through his endless charity. His two sons, Ray, a Professor of Law and Forrest, a dissolute alcoholic and substance abuser, are the only heirs. Following a summons from their father a week earlier, Ray arrives in Clanton first to discover his father already dead from cancer in the family home. Before his brother arrives he makes the bewildering discovery of $3million in cash, carefully packed away in boxes in a side cabinet. Unwilling to tell Forrest of his discovery in case he squanders his share on drugs and alcohol, Ray begins a journey to discover its origin. Thus begins a tale of tawdry casinos, intimidation and crooked tort lawyers. A return to the legal settings after his diversion in "The Painted House", this is an easy read, and pleasant enough, addressing both the moral dilemmas involved in such a discovery and the difficult relationships that can exist within a family.
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 (Forecasts, Feb. 4). (Feb.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.