The Book That Wasn’t : The Summons


John Grisham’s reputation as an author of  legal crime thrillers much influenced my choice as i picked up The Summons from the library. The synopsis reads

“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 No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.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.”

The book starts with a fair character sketch and draws the reader into the life of Ray Atlee. A fairly successful lawyer with a not-so-happy childhood, faced with the prospect of going to a house which held no memories for him except for the ones that hurt or angered.

Ray Atlee returns to Mississippi to his old town of Clanton and finds himself instead in his house Maple Run with his father dead and $3 million in cash. Thereon starts his journey to find out the source of the cash and the dilemma of whether to include it in the estate of his now deceased father (and lose half in state taxes) or to split it with his druggie brother Forrest.

The remainder of the book is about Ray’s efforts to trace how a Judge surviving on State salary landed with so much money. And how Ray is dazzled with the amount of cash. In a way, it reminded me of the stories we read when we were small, about how people get lured by too much money and how they change the way they behave to accommodate the money they now have.

To add-on to his troubles, Ray is followed, attacked, attempted to be robbed and their ancestral home damaged in a fire. Ray’s nervousness on handling such a large volume is palpable as he even sleeps in his car, prejudiced that someone will steal it.

Meanwhile, Ray checks Forrest into a rehab centre. Forrest has had a history of joining rehab, coming clean for a while and then simply walking away from sobriety into drugs.

Ray manages to locate a lawyer who can tell him about the source of the cash. Even though it clears things, Ray is threatened and Maple Run is burnt the following night.

Glad to get rid of the cash, Ray gets back to his normal routine life. He goes to meet Forrest at a rehab centre resembling a boot camp where he learns that Forrest had the cash all along.

My Review Method: I’ve replaced the usual stars with Spaz, the Bookworm, with 5 small rings below. The more green you see on Spaz are my ratings on 5.

Rating for The Summons:

I rate The Summons 2/5

The book did not inspire me to leave everything and read it. The story line was interesting but too predictable.

The writing style was very easy which makes it a good read for people who want a casual read. The details are very well done and gives one an insight into Inheritance Laws.

But, nothing in the book inspired me to say, “I want to read this one again”. I’ve read many books which i think back and go, “Wow, that…that i need to pick up again and read”.

I would say the plot was too simple and a bit dragged with very limited action to prompt  one to read on without a break. Not something that stimulated my mind. Very little action or drama. Not a thriller definitely

I would recommend better reads if you love reading but don’t find time. If you want to make a start at reading, perhaps if you find the story interesting.

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