Review: The Summons by John Grisham


Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He’s forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family’s black sheep.

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.

With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It 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, which he prefers now 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.

And perhaps someone else.

I had a very hard time getting interested in this one, and that’s usually not the case for a Grisham novel. I was bored to tears until Ray (finally) went home to see his father, and discovered the Judge’s body.
The story did improve from that point on, but still, it wasn’t as enthralling as what I’ve come to expect from Grisham. I was able to figure out ‘whodunnit’ very easily, and thought the ending was quite lackluster.
It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but it’s the worst I’ve read from Grisham.

Author: John Grisham

Title: The Summons

Published: 2002


This review was originally published on Goodreads in May 2010.