The Chamber

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 1994

Collection

Description

Five CDs, 6 hrs.Performance by Michael BeckIn the corridors of Chicago's top law firm: Twenty-six-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case. Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison: Sam Cayhall is a former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances -- except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson. While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes to save his client. For between the two men is a chasm of shame, family lies, and secrets -- including the one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life...or cost Adam his.… (more)

Library's rating

Rating

(1380 ratings; 3.4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ctmsnaco
The Chamber tells about a guy named Sam Cayhall, condemned to the gas chamber because of a hideous and brutal crime he committed in the late 1960′s against a Jewish lawyer who helped people with civil rights get justice. Cayhall was an accomplice in setting a timed clock bomb that destroyed the
Show More
lawyer’s office and unintentionally killed the lawyer’s two twin boys John and Josh. With just a month before his execution date, Cayhall’s grandson, a young lawyer from Kravitz and Bane named Adam Hall, arrives on the scene to save the day.The Chamber forces the reader to sit with the idea of the death penalty. Thankfully, John Grisham does not make Cayhall out to be the victim. The crimes are described in horrific and disturbing detail, and we later discover that Cayhall was guilty of even more egregious and horrendous sins than the one when he killed the little Kramer boys for which the government wants to execute him. As the characters remember past events, the picture of doing horrible and its consequences and karma becomes more and more disturbing and wicked. Cayhall’s son Eddie Cayhall commits suicide. The Jewish lawyer whose sons were killed in the bombing is paralyzed and wants justice for his sons but later kills himself, Cayhall’s daughter lee becomes an alcoholic and spends significant time in rehab. While the father Sam Cayhall shows no remorse for his actions, the children suffer under unbearable guilt and shame for what is father did. I have never read a book that so clearly demonstrates how one man can have no remorse for a hideous crime he committed nor try to have remorse. But there is some what redemption here, too. As the book progresses, Cayhall’s defenses begin to fall and he starts to face his death. He becomes patient. He looks forward to his visits with a young minister. By the end, he is ready to face death and to meet his Maker. I recommend The Chamber for its destructive force it leaves in its wake, but also for the redemption that can come to even the most hardened criminal.
Show Less
LibraryThing member eheleneb3
I feel about this book the way I feel about most of Grisham's books, with the possible exception of A Time to Kill: It is overly sentimental and trite and he has taken an extreme situation and manipulated it to seem like the norm.

That being said, it is a thrilling page-turner, and Grisham
Show More
accurately captures that warm yet ruthless feeling of the "South" and of being "Southern." The flashbacks to racism and a world where it was acceptable to be a member of the KKK are fascinating.
Show Less
LibraryThing member donttalktofreaks
The best of all Grisham's books. Adam, a rookie lawyer, takes the pro bono case to get his grandfather's impending execution delayed or pardoned. This books goes a little deeper into the character development than most Grisham books.
LibraryThing member Anagarika-Sean
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It deals with an issue close to my heart.
LibraryThing member CaptKirk
I read it, but it didn't set well with me. Since I lean more toward the death penalty, it set me on edge knowing the book had a decidedly anti-death penalty slant. I'd prefer Mr. Grisham leave his personal ideas and beliefs out of his stories. Seemed to be a little politically motivated.
LibraryThing member tetchechury
A decent John Grisham book, but not one of my favorites.
LibraryThing member RudyJohnson
Mr. Grisham delivers another Legal Thriller.

Mr. Grisham is one of my favorite authors and I thought this novel was an excellent and compelling story. Actually, I thought this book was a notch or two above "The Firm and The Pelican Brief", which I enjoyed tremendously. The book starts off a bit
Show More
slow and then picks up the pace as you the reader become involved with the young lawyer as tries to save his grandfather from the gas chamber for the murder of a father and two children. Overall, I would gladly recommend this novel by an author that knows how to deliver a thrilling story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dividedblue_eyedsky
I have to say I was disappointed in this book, very well told story. But the result I knew would happen did not that even as I was reading it would expect anything different. Very well written but I feel that I was let down by the ending. Not one of my favorites from John Grisham.
LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
This was another mediocre Grisham book, but at least it was not a cookie-cutter one. Whereas most of Grisham's novels feature bad-ass lawyers doing cool stuff, the main lawyer in this one was young and way over his head.

Not having seen the movie before reading the book (or since, for that matter),
Show More
I was not expecting the defense to fail and Cayhall to actually be executed. That was an invigorating surprise. And the depiction of the execution itself was nicely written and rather touching, with little details like Cayhall seeing that the shoes from his pre-execution outfit were too big, and realizing it didn't matter. One of the best scenes Grisham ever wrote, in my opinion.

But not enough to save this book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AliceAnna
John Grisham writes a pretty good book, but his endings are awful. He doesn't end a book -- he simply quits writing. I didn't have an issue with Sam's fate -- he was, after all, a murderer. But Grisham dropped too many other threads, including the identity of the real guilty party. I can think of
Show More
at least three other ways to have ended this book, each of which would have been more satisfying without being cliche. What the book needed was justice, even if it was dealt out underhandedly. -1996
Show Less
LibraryThing member RudyJohnson
Mr. Grisham delivers another Legal Thriller.

Mr. Grisham is one of my favorite authors and I thought this novel was an excellent and compelling story. Actually, I thought this book was a notch or two above "The Firm and The Pelican Brief", which I enjoyed tremendously. The book starts off a bit
Show More
slow and then picks up the pace as you the reader become involved with the young lawyer as tries to save his grandfather from the gas chamber for the murder of a father and two children. Overall, I would gladly recommend this novel by an author that knows how to deliver a thrilling story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member suvarob
One of Grisham's best
LibraryThing member mazda502001
Quite a good book but found it plodding in parts. Not one of his best.

Back Cover Blurb:
This Grisham novel is about a rookie lawyer engaged in defending a member of the Ku Klux Klan who is being held on Death Row. The lawyer detests his client's racism, but as the case develops, it appears that his
Show More
client may be innocent.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ecw0647
I have polished several John Grisham novels (mostly when I should have been doing something useful like working on the house or yard, but what the heck, life’s too short). I suppose we have a tendency to denigrate his books; too popular with the masses, but he really does know how to write a good
Show More
plot that keeps the pages turning. He also must really hate lawyers, because in each of these novels the way the lawyers operate would make a barracuda blush with shame. In addition to turning out god stories, when I look at his most recent work, he is clearly emphasizing community values in the South during the fifties and sixties as well as the dynamics families under pressure of those relationships between blacks and whites.
The Chamber is a good example. If anyone deserves to die it’s Sam Cayhall. He’s on death row in a Mississippi prison following the delayed conviction for the deaths of two children at the 1967 bombing of a Jewish lawyer’s office. The children were not supposed to be there when the bomb went off, but because the timing mechanism on the bomb had been misset. Iut took three trials to convict him, and he’s now a seventy-year-old frail old man, but still unrepentent. Adam Hall, his grandson, whose parents had changed their name in a rejection of their parent’s values and moved away. Adam had attended law school where he became obsessed with his grandfather’s case and the death penalty. He joins the law firm that had been working on Sam’s case and persuades them to send him down to fight the death penalty with only thirty days left before he goes to the gas chamber. Adam learns about the destructive relationship of his father, the intense and unrepentant racism of his grandfather, and the hugely destructive impact all of this had on the family. It’s a race against time as he discovers a sub-plot that could exonerate his grandfather. Grisham is clearly against the death penalty and the details he provides are gruesome in the extreme. A very interesting page-turner, very different from his earlier work.

Show Less
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
Standard Grisham that rates three stars because it does make one think about the death penalty. Also reveals a lot about the appeals process - with most of the suspense over the timing involved.
LibraryThing member gogglemiss
Really compelling story, and I couldn't help but get really involved in it. The ending really sucks, though.
LibraryThing member christinejoseph
he always intrigues you right away!

In the corridors of Chicago's top law firm:
Twenty -six-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case.

Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison:
Sam Cayhall is a
Show More
former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances -- except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson.
While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes to save his client. For between the two men is a chasm of shame, family lies, and secrets -- including the one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life... or cost Adam his.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ChrisNewton
Tedious. I only finished it because I was on a long road trip and had nothing else to read in the motel nights. Takes forever to get going, the characters aren't really that interesting. Maybe I just don't like legal thrillers. On the other hand, there is nothing in the story that could
Show More
legitimately be called thrilling.
Show Less
LibraryThing member NaggedMan
I really liked it - characterisations, plot, interest.
LibraryThing member herebedragons
Great legal thriller.
LibraryThing member HenriMoreaux
This is a lengthy but good legal thriller by Grisham about the death penalty, whilst it goes slow down in parts, it is a detailed story that uses every page wisely to build a moving narrative on the issues surrounding the death penalty in America.

Overall, it's a rather sad book, a man full of hate
Show More
gets shafted by those around him and left holding the bag for a bombing where two young children were killed, a bombing that the man never intended would kill anyone. Despite being named by an associate of the Klan, he remains faithful to his oath to never name a co-conspirator in the Klan. There's some political maneuvering and friction between partners at the law firm where the lawyer works. It's quite a sombre book all said.

I enjoyed it even if it wasn't as 'exciting' as some of Grisham's other legal thrillers.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lewilliams
To detailed and much to long and drawn out. I lost interest half way through and did not finis this book.
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars

Adam Hall is a new lawyer. In Mississippi, Sam Cayhall, a (former) KKK member, is on death row for bombing a building in 1967 where a Jewish lawyer worked; the bomb went off when the lawyer’s 5-year old twin sons were there and both were killed. When Adam learns that Sam is his
Show More
grandfather (Adam was only 3 when his father left Mississippi and changed all their names so as to not be associated with his own racist KKK father), he decides to head to Mississippi to fight the death sentence against Sam.

This was good, but maybe not quite as good as many of Grisham’s others. I think it was a bit slower. There were sort of two parts to it: the legal case being made and the pro/con death penalty, but also the story of a family with secrets, as Adam and Sam (and Adam and his aunt, Sam’s daughter) get to know each other. I thought about upping my rating just a little bit at the end, but decided I’d stick with how I felt through the majority of the book and go with 3.5 stars “good”.
Show Less
LibraryThing member EmScape
A fascinating account of one man's final days on Death Row. Sam Cayhall was accused and convicted of a bombing that resulted in the death of two young boys and the dismemberment of their father, a Jewish attorney in Mississippi in the 1960's. With a month to go before his execution, his long-lost
Show More
grandson appears, offering to be his lawyer. Adam Hall wasn't aware of his grandfather's existence, much less his history until he was 17. Adam immediately decides to become an attorney in order to help Sam.
At the beginning of the book, the reader is disgusted with Sam and his actions and unclear why Adam wishes to engage in a family relationship with such a reprehensible man, but as the story plays out Sam becomes an almost sympathetic character.
As with all Grisham novels, the facts and procedure is exhaustively researched and accurate. An impressive novel, but a bit dry in parts.
Show Less
LibraryThing member librisissimo
After reading a couple of chapters, I decided the subject matter did not interest me enough to spend time in the world of the KKK and legal maneuvering.
The actual writing is par for the course for Grisham: steady workmanship, some nice rhetoric occasionally, and an important discussion of personal
Show More
relationships in a fraught world.
Show Less

Publication

Doubleday (1994), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 496 pages

Original publication date

1994

Pages

496

ISBN

0385424728 / 9780385424721

Language

Page: 0.3435 seconds