The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.
As he digs into the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, looking at the kind of enormous settlement that would totally change his life—that would make him, almost overnight, the legal profession’s newest king of torts...
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think John Grisham is one of the best authors ever and most of his books are well-plotted and supremely clever, but this one reads a bit like an airy Mary Higgins-Clark novella. The "hero" isn't exactly likeable either as he has dubious moral standards (ripping off sick people, driving a firm into foreclosure because he doesn't want to reduce his legal fees etc.), but yet Grisham tries to make him out to be a nice guy, e.g. him still carrying the flame for his former lover (who's not likeable either) and eschewing any money after he'd just lost it all anyway, him giving his former colleagues huge bonuses and so on. This book is more of a sermon on the evils of the American tort system and the love of money, but it still keeps you reading so that you can see him finally get his come-uppance.
John Grisham is a master at the legal thriller. They can have a tendency to sound the same if you run through several of the books one after another because of the similar themes of law and things but they certainly have a fast flowing and dynamic pace. Grisham can draw the reader into the lives of his characters and have them rooting for a protagonist in a hurry. His strength in drawing in the reader is very rare and makes him at the top of the game. The King of Torts makes you root for a young lawyer who much like Icarus flies too close to the sun and is burned but manages to survive.
Young, burned out public defender turns down corporate law position. But Clay listens to corrupt former lawyer named Max who promises a fortune in legal fees for doing little work but settling numerous tort claims involving a drug with serious side effects. He sets up legal office in D.C. with large staff and significant expenses. He is befriended by old successful mass tort claims expert French who convinces him to get a jet aircraft. Despite high office expenses, Clay still makes a fortune and receives substantial press as the new "King of Torts." Max gives Clay the inside track on another bad drug and Clay makes another fortune. But he continues his spendthrift ways. He loses old girlfriend who marries another man. Clay finds an expensive bimbo and takes her everywhere. At this point, we are about 1/3 of the way through the book and you can guess exactly what is going to happen as the expenses continue to mount, but the income levels off.
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