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The Summons by John Grisham | Book Review

Reading a John Grisham book is always an interesting experience for us. And, we are sure, it would be the same for many readers. Especially for those who love exploring legal thrillers.

It would not be wrong to say that talking about international legal thrillers (books) and missing out the name of John Grisham is almost impossible.

Book Title : The Summons
Author :
Published by : RHUK ( 5 December 2002)
Cornerstone Digital ( 20 April 2010)
# of Pages : 400 (Paperback) 394; 4929 KB (Kindle EBook) 305 Minutes (Audiobook)
Purchase Link(s) :

Today we are going to talk about his book – The Summons.

Book Cover:

Being a gateway to the virtual world explored within, the book cover is responsible making its first impression. And, we humans, by nature, love beautiful and attractive things. So, if the book cover attracts a potential reader/buyer, there are high chances of the book being picked by him/her.

Let us take a look at the cover page of The Summons

The Summons By John Grisham | Book Cover

The Summons By John Grisham | Book Cover

As you can see, the cover page reflects the theme that may remind you of old time. Over time, the book is reprinted again and again, and the cover page kept getting prettier and more attractive.

An illustration of the protagonist running represents the story quite well. The red color used for the illustration reflects the violence comes to his path. The background color looks a little dull, however the currency bills illustrated in the illustration of the protagonist makes it richer with elements.

A moderate cover page.


Judge Ruben Atlee is one of the most respected person, not only in his town, but his legendary decision made him famous outside his county as well. He is a simple, honest, no-nonsense person. He has two sons, Ray Atlee, a professor in a respected law college and Forrest Atlee, who is more known for his drug addiction.

The judge lives alone in his hometown and seldom meets his sons. Of course, he loves them. There are some idelogical differences and generation gap keeping the emotional distance between them.

The town he live in, is comparatively safe. Judge used to keep his doors and windows open.

One day he summons Ray and Forrest to meet him as he suspects his time is almost over. Ray reaches to meet him and found him dead in the study. He hugs him and expresses his love for his father. In the papers on the table he also found the last will the judge wrote just the previous day. His brother is yet to arrive. In the will, Ray is given the respnsibility of the will-executor.

While exploring the judge’s things, he found a few boxes full of cash! It is around 3 million dollars! And, the money is not mentioned in the will.

By the way, as per law the 50% amount of inheritance is collected by the government as tax.

The huge amount of money made Ray curious. It could have came from anywhere and could be dirty or marked too. He decided to not to tell about the money to anyone, yet. Both the brothers, with his friends and relatives performs the last rites of the late judge. And, Ray lives with the money stashed in his car trunk.

His life is changed suddenly and he found himself being followed! He also started getting threating letters and his secure places are vandalized for burgalary too! Definitely, someone knows about the money and wanted to get it desperately.

What will happen now?

Well, it is better to read the book to get answers then talking about it, to avoid spoilers.

In the journey, your will meet with: Professor Atlee, Ray, Forrest, Fog Newton, Vicki, Simmons and Ripley, Harry Rex Vonner, Margaret, Mrs. Dempsey, Claudia Gates, Nakita Poole, Kaley, Fog Newton, Corey Crawford, Rusty Wattle, Piccolo, Barker, Oscar Meave, Clete Gibson, Patton French, Clete Gibson, Dickie, Gordie Priest, Bobby Lee, Elmer Conway, Mr. and Mrs. Vonner, Ratterfield, and others.

Views and Reviews:

The book lives up to the reputation of the author, John Grisham. He has delivered another fantastic thriller to his reader in the form of – The Summons.

To reflect the book title, the story starts with a summons sent by Judge Atlee to his sons.

All the key characters have their own shades. While judge Atlee is honest, fearless and one of the most respected fellows in the town; he also has a consort. And, when the things go wrong way, he correct it too. Professor Atlee is bachelor but knows how to deal with the advances of female students. He is very reluctant about following rules of the college. He, when came to know about a large amount of undocumented money, follows his temptation and brings it with him. He is a vigilant and curious fellow.

Forrest, despite being a drug addict, is not a dumb fellow as he pretends to be. He keeps playing his own games, mostly not known to the other characters in the book. There is a man-Friday for the professor in the book and he does his bits whenever required. There are some strong female characters as well. I am not referring to them just to avoid spoilers.

The good thing about John Grisham books, is the way he build the plot. He never overlook or overdo the entertainment quotient as well. There are cheap thrilling moments in book, making it a good choice.

The book starts by exploring routine of the professor.

It came by mail, regular postage, the old-fashioned way since the Judge was almost eighty and distrusted modern devices. Forget e-mail and even faxes. He didn’t use an answering machine and had never been fond of the telephone. He pecked out his letters with both index fingers, one feeble key at a time, hunched over his old Underwood manual on a rolltop desk under the portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

See, despite exploring the scene at the professor’s place, these lines explores the characteristics of the Judge quite intestingly. It also explores the way of living in non-metro areas of USA and its culture. The old man’s ways are found quite relatable globally. In the last phase of the life, people from anywhere around the globe prefers proven, old fashion way of doing things. This segment reflects it quite well.

The book also explores the physical and emotional gap between family members and how it affects them knowingly or unknowingly. It proves that no matter how much we prefer to have our own freedom and independence, we, humans, are social animals by nature and we need fellows to celebrate the joy and share the moments of sorrows.

The author dives deep into the psyche of various characters. It shows the author’s deep study and understanding of human nature.

It was the nature of the Judge, and perhaps most judges for that matter, to set dates for hearings and deadlines with little regard for the convenience of others.

The book has good satirical conversations that irks smile on your face. For example:

The sight of Ray prompted the latest round of lawyer jokes, none of which were particularly funny, all of which drew howls at the punch lines.
“No wonder you don’t have any students,” Ray said as he did the paperwork.
“Where you going?” demanded Docker.
“Just punching a few holes in the sky.”
“We’ll alert air traffic control.”
“You’re much too busy for that.”

The author is good at exploring places. As you can see in the quoted segment here, he don’t overdo with too much descrption and don’t miss the important details.

To a university that so revered the architecture of its founder, the law school was just another modern campus building, square and flat, brick and glass, as bland and unimaginative as many others built in the seventies.

The author talks about tragic situations without being too melodramatic. For example:

Another man gets your wife pregnant, then takes her, and you’d like to ask him some questions. And perhaps have a few for her.

You can sense the tension the character referred here is feeling. It also elaborates bitter truth of too much materialistic life style without having morals and ethics to keep check on a person. Well, I am neither preaching nor trying to judge anyone here, it is simply about the complexities it creates in the social canvas. The result of the same are not peace-making always.

The author brings in some interesting line reflecting the pious profession of teaching.

Teaching keeps you young, they all said, perhaps energetic and mentally sharp, …

The author elaborates how the keepers and deliverers of the law have to behave.

… good judges follow the law. Weak judges follow the crowd.

When reading a thriller, you are presented with the moments of tension. Having some intelligent humor weaved in the same gives you the moments of relief during your eading journey. The author knows it well, and hence there are lines like the following in the book:

Alex Duffman’s wife sent a platter of her infamous chocolate brownies, each weighing a pound and proven to add three more to your waist.

The author doesn’t forget to mention the use of human behavior patter in various war tactics. Well, it is not a full-fledged war, but, for the characters involved it is nothing less than meeting-with-death kind of situation.

The attack began shortly after 2 A.M., at the darkest hour of the night, when sleep is heaviest and reactions slowest.

You will also enjoy various driving sessions around US and fying sessions over the hilly terrain while reading this book. The way the professor books 3 places one by one to keep his valuables safe and its consequence proves to be an interesting read segment.

The author knows that in real life, everything doesn’t end up in ideal situation and reflects the same in the book. Maybe for some readers it come as a disappointment.


Overall, an interesting thriller. I enjoyed reading it.

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 stars out of 10.

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Over To You:

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