Review: The Testament (John Grisham)

Troy Phelan is an eccentric old man worth 11 billion dollars who is planning to commit suicide. His three ex-wives and 6 children have proved time and again that they do not deserve to inherit that kind of money and whenever they were given any money it was all wasted in a few days.

The title refers to the last will (or testament) that Troy prepares. In it, he leaves all his money to his illegitimate daughter Rachel Lane, who is now a missionary in the remote jungles of Brazil. The other heirs immediately go to court to get their share of the money.

Nate O'Riley, an alcoholic lawyer just out of rehab is sent by Troy's lawyers to find Rachel. His journey through the jungles to locate Rachel forms the major portion of the story.

The last two Grisham books I'd read were completely different from his usual legal dramas and I liked them very much. This book lies somewhere in between, there are plenty of lawyers around and there is some courtroom drama, but there also is some element of an adventure story. Alternate chapters deal with Nate's adventures in Brazil and the legal battle that rages on in Washington.

The plot was interesting, and the ending was quite unexpected. Grisham did a good job balancing the adventure story with the legal drama. The courtroom scenes too were well done -- especially Nate tearing apart the bad guys in the witness stand.

The story seemed to drag a little bit in the portion set in Brazil. For a book that spends such a long time describing the natural beauty of the Pantanal region of Brazil, very little is said about the culture of the natives living there.

I liked the character Nate O'Riley -- alcoholic, drug abuse, twice divorced, a bad father, tax evader -- in spite of all his flaws, he was likeable. As for the other characters, there isn't much to say... very little time is devoted to developing other characters.

Overall, it was a good book. A little bit slow at times, but the ending came as a surprise. It's worth a read if you like Grisham's legal thrillers.

Rating. 7/10.


Aravind said...

I don't know why someone with 11 billion dollars should think of suicide, even with fair amounts of eccentricity in him/her.

Jaimie said...

That's what I thought of this book also. Pretty good, but far from being his greatest. Thanks for the review!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Hmm. Sounds like it isn't perfect, but would make a fun distraction on a plane ride or the like.

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