In his first collection of short stories John Grisham takes us back to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill.
Wheelchair-bound Inez Graney and her two older sons, Leon and Butch, take a bizarre road trip through the Mississippi Delta to visit the youngest Graney brother, Raymond, who's been locked away on death row for eleven years. It could well be their last visit.
Mack Stafford, a hard-drinking and low-grossing run-of-the-mill divorce lawyer gets a miracle phone call with a completely unexpected offer to settle some old, forgotten cases for more money than he has ever seen. Mack is suddenly bored with the law, fed up with his wife and his life, and makes drastic plans to finally escape.
Quiet, dull Sidney, a data collector for an insurance company, perfects his blackjack skills in hopes of bringing down the casino empire of Clanton's most ambitious hustler, Bobby Carl Leach, who, among other crimes, has stolen Sidney's wife.
Three good ol' boys from rural Ford County begin a journey to the big city of Memphis to give blood to a grievously injured friend. However, they are unable to drive past a beer store as the trip takes longer and longer. The journey comes to an abrupt end when they make a fateful stop at a Memphis strip club.
The Quiet Haven Retirement Home is the final stop for the elderly of Clanton. It's a sad, languid place with little controversy, until Gilbert arrives. Posing as a lowly paid bedpan boy, he is in reality a brilliant stalker with an uncanny ability to sniff out the assets of those "seniors" he professes to love.
One of the hazards of litigating against people in a small town is that one day, long after the trial, you will probably come face-to-face with someone you've beaten in a lawsuit. Lawyer Stanley Wade bumps into an old adversary, a man with a long memory, and the encounter becomes a violent ordeal.
Clanton is rocked with the rumor that the gay son of a prominent family has finally come home, to die. Of AIDS. Fear permeates the town as gossip runs unabated. But in Lowtown, the colored section of Clanton, the young man finds a soul mate in his final days.
Featuring a cast of characters you'll never forget, these stories bring Ford County to vivid and colorful life. Often hilarious, frequently moving, and always entertaining, this collection makes it abundantly clear why John Grisham is our most popular storyteller.
From the Hardcover edition.
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"I got this book for Christmas and finished it already. I love John Grisham's writing so I was really looking forward to reading it. Although not all of the stories have lawyers as the main characer all of the stories deal with the judicial system in some way if only in a minor way. Unfortunately, many of the lawyers are a little, and sometimes alot, shady in their dealings with clients and other parties. This makes me a little sad because I want lawyers to all be good guys or to at least try to be ethical. One story, Michael's Room, made me think a bit about what Grisham was trying to say and how I feel about our judicial system. In this story the lawyer is accosted and actually kidnapped by a father that sued a doctor for malpractice several years before. The lawyer represented the doctor and his insurance company and won the case. No money for the poor family, and that is probably how you are suppose to feel. This poor family was beat up by the judicial system and this lawyer in Court. The father goes through the "lies" that the lawyer either told or facilitated during the trial. Most, however, are a matter of competeing expert opinions such as how long the father's child would live, how expensive future treatment would be and what level of care would be required. There was not even a hint of withheld documents or purjured testimony or anything like that. So the lawyer was not really lying, he was wrong. It's easy to see that 8 years after the trial but that's not really fair to the process. The family certainly had a lawyer and experts as well at trial but the jury sided with the doctor and the insurance company. Our judicial system is an aversarial system where both lawyers zealaously represent their clients and the truth should come out. I'm not going to say that the system is fool proof but what other system would you like? I know that in a close or complicated case that the best lawyer often wins not the best case. I also know that the best lawyers are often the most expensive lawyers so that rich people or comapnies with deep pockets get "better" justice. But how would you fix that? We could make all lawyers public employees and pay them all the same and just assign the cases out. Of course, the best lawyer will still win the close or complicated cases. We could make the system non-adversarial and just have one lawyer or a judge that just decides who is right but how do you do that? Then we will have stories written about how unfair that system is. I like mediation but it only works if the parties are both really willing to see the other side. I think until we enter Christ's Millenial Reign we are stuck with people doing the best that they can and a judicial system doing the same thing. I liked the book I just wanted to get on my soap box about this one thing. I wonder if Grisham, who practiced law at one time but is now a full time author, even likes lawyers."
Todd (4 out of 5 stars)