Once Judge Atlee was a powerful figure in Clanton, Mississippi--a pillar of the community who towered over local law and politics for forty years. Now the judge is a shadow of his former self, a sick, lonely old man who has withdrawn to his sprawling ancestral home. Knowing the end is near, Judge Atlee has issued a summons for his two sons to return to Clanton to discuss his estate. Ray Atlee is the eldest, a Virginia law professor, newly single and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. Forrest is Ray's younger brother, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep. The summons is typed by the judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study. Ray reluctantly heads south to his hometown, to the place where he grew up and now prefers to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.
along with his younger brother, Forrest, has been summoned home by a terse
letter from the old man. He arrives just in time to find his father's body
on the couch in his study, still warm but very dead. It's no surprise to
anyone. The judge has had cancer for a long time and was given about a year
to live, well, about a year ago. The judge was revered by everybody in the
county and had hoped that both his sons would grow up and practice law right
there by his side. But Ray escaped to academia where he teaches law at an
ivy league school and Forrest escaped into a haze of drugs and booze. Both
the boys were a disappointment to the old man.
In the process of getting ready to settle the old man's estate, Ray
discovers 27 stationery boxes in a storage cabinet, each one filled to the
brim with $100 bills. He has no idea where the money came from or how his
father came to own it. All he knows is that there is no way that money came
to the old man in an honest fashion. If he'd saved every penny he made as a
circuit judge all those years, he wouldn't have amassed a fortume like this.
But someone else knows about this money. And they are willing to kill to
This is a typical Grisham thriller, with a few twists and turns to keep your
interest until the secrets are unfolded at the end. I enjoyed it the first
time I read it and I enjoyed it this time around, too. It gets a 4.
Parts of this book are very suspenseful and it is very fast-paced. There is a suspenseful build-up to the end, but nothing really happens. I felt let-down when I finished it.
In preparing the estate he finds three million in cash in the house and isn't sure where it came from. His father was a stickler for the law and didn't earn much money. Was it a bribe? In his search to find out where the money came from he realizes that someone is following him and knows about the money. He becomes increasingly more and more worried about the money and he knows it is ruining him. He finally gives into the threats... In the end Ray does find out who was chasing him for the money and no one is more surprised then him.
This book was a pretty typical John Grisham novel that involves the law. The author doesn't go into too much legal jargon which allows the readers who are not lawyers enough information to follow the story line without it becoming overburdened with technical information. A good summer read but not as gripping as some of Grisham's previous novels.
A good read for a long plane ride, but other than that nothing amazing. The plot could have been a little tighter. In the middle I couldn't tell if it was the character deciding what to do with the money or Grisham deciding what to do with the story.
Ruben Atley was a highly respected judge. He had two sons: Ray and Forrest. Ray was a legal ethics professor at the University of Virginia making a good salary; Forrest had been a serious thorn in the judge’s side since adolescence and wandered from one rehab program to another trying to kick assorted addictive habits.
Ray gets a call from his father asking him to come to Mississippi right away. Knowing the judge has terminal cancer and has been in great pain for several months, Ray leaves right away only to arrive at the family’s old house in time to find the judge had died on the couch in his office. On the desk was a holographic will leaving everything to his two sons and making Ray the executor. Ray calls the appropriate authorities and then, while waiting for his brother to arrive, goes through the house and the judge’s papers in preparation for the will’s probate. The judge had been meticulous in his records, keeping track of all his cases, and had been in the habit of giving away what little money he had to assorted good causes. There had never been even the whiff of a scandal who had a sterling reputation. So it came as a huge shock for Ray to discover $3,000,000 in $100 bills stacked neatly in stationery boxes behind the sofa. Not knowing what to think or do, Ray bags up the money and hides it in the trunk of his car. He didn’t want to sully the reputation of his father, but there seemed to be nothing other than a sordid explanation for such a huge amount of cash.
There’s a snag. Someone else knows about the money and leaves threatening messages ordering him to return the cash to its hiding place. Ray decides to find out if the money is counterfeit or marked in some way so he takes it back to Virginia in his car, driving very carefully, I might add.
He’s assured of the money’s legitimacy after using some of it to gamble with and by surreptitiously and duplicitously checking with the Treasury Department. He hides the money in fireproof boxes in storage sheds, possessively and obsessively checking on it almost hourly. He does not tell his brother of the find, rationalizing that Forrest would only blow it up his nose anyway. As the notes continue, he begins to worry he is being followed, so he hires a detective to watch his back, but evidence of the watcher(s) continues unabated. He loads the money back into the trunk of his car and decides to find out where the money could have come from.
I hate giving anything away, so I’ll only reveal that it involves a huge tort case, the judge is squeaky clean, the brothers’ relationship gets more interesting and complex, no one gets murdered, and the ending involves a comeuppance that is quite satisfactory
In this story we have a judge who dies and his estate is in question. Our main character Ray finds a fortune in the house, and then has to forfeit it. I really enjoyed it a great deal. I would definitely recommend this book to those that enjoy the Fort County stories.
In the opening scenes retired Mississippi Judge Atlee summons his two sons to a meeting. He is then found dead by his son Ray, the law professor from up north in Virginia. While waiting for his delinquent brother Forrest to show up at the house Ray stumbles on boxes of cash in an old bookshelf - lots of cash - three million dollars of cash.
And with that Ray's organized world disintegrates. How can his straight laced, law abiding, pig headed father have so much cash and never mention it? And what in the world was he supposed to do with it? If he turns it over to the police it will disappear to the inheritance taxes.
If he shares it with his brother Forrest will probably kill himself with drugs and alcohol.
If he hides it how will he be able to use it?
And who is that person rattling the windows on his father's deserted house - do they know about the money???
Ray begins a cross-country odyssey carrying the money from hotel room to trunk to storage unit and back again all the while trying to solve the mystery of his father and the cash and who is following him.
All of Grisham's books make you care about the character - but most also have a perfect moral compass. This one doesn't quite. The money is not Ray's - right? So what would you do?
And at the end I was happily surprised.
This was a great page mile-eating page-turner!!