The Chamber by John Grisham
I have been reading the books of John Grisham since his debut novel “A Time To Kill” in 1989 and I found his style of writing quite refreshing, and then came his second book “The Firm” well I was flabbergasted it was even better than his first story and I was not the only one to think so.
Since then I have tried to read all offerings from this master weaver of the legal thriller, some I have and some slipped through the net and ended up on my to read list, which I have now started to get to grips with (I Think).
Well let’s get to this story “The Chamber” a book I have been wanting to read for some time now, it is all about;
Adam Hall is 26 years old and in his first year at a top Chicago law firm. He volunteers for the toughest assignment any lawyer could ask for.
His prospective client doesn’t want Adam or his law firm. He is an unrepentant and outspoken racist with a violent past. He is on Death Row for the murder of two Jewish children in a horrific bombing in 1967.
Why would he take on Adam, a complete novice, to defend him? And why would Adam want his case so desperately? The answer lies in the past, in a twenty-year-old secret buried in the madness of another time.
Sam Cayhall is to be tried for the third time for the murders of two young men who were killed when he allegedly bombed their father’s law office. The first two trials resulted in a hung jury. He stays there for years to come until his grandson tries to get him off of death row. This time, twelve years after the event, the prosecution feels more confident. The jury is not all white.
Consequently, apart from the sensitive subject matter of racism, and more importantly is the controversial topic of capital punishment, I can remember taking part in a debate when at school at the time of the Abolition of Death Penalty Act, there was so much controversy then and there still is as recently as 27th of January 1999.
The Home Secretary (Jack Straw) formally signed the 6th protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights in Strasbourg, on behalf of the British government formally abolishing the death penalty in the UK. It had been still theoretically available for treason and piracy up to 1998 but it was extremely unlikely that even if anyone had been convicted of these crimes over the preceding 30 years, that they would have actually been executed. Successive Home Secretaries had always reprieved persons sentenced to death in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man where the death sentence for murder could still be passed and the Royal Prerogative was observed.
I find that John Grisham was very insightful when writing about this subject and treated his characters with great compassion, but I found this book a bit slow not as fast paced as other Grisham stories if I may say it was enjoyable in parts however the ending was a little disappointing (I’ll leave it to you to see why).
What I wanted from this story, was what I have become used to from John Grisham and that is to keep me spellbound with lots of twists and turns in anticipation of suitable finale, there are plenty of twists but in the end it just left me with too many questions and I felt a bit cheated that all the loose ends were not tied up.
Having said all that it was a good story with a good plot so I will give it 3 stars, I did like it and would recommend it but with the caveat that it won’t get your pulse racing but it will make you reflect on how we view the subject of capital punishment and isn’t that what a good story-weaver is supposed to do?
- The Confession by John Grisham (run4joy59.wordpress.com)
- John Grisham on writing (hopeseguin2011.wordpress.com)
- Bay Area Book Club: Books of the Month (booksintheburbs.com)
- Hello John Grisham (reinehere.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: ‘A Time to Kill’ by John Grisham (pacejmiller.wordpress.com)
- Is Capital Punishment Effective? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)