The Chamber

By: John Grisham

Rating: 80%

Brief Summary: A young lawyer makes a feeble attempt at defending his grandfather who is on death row.

The Chamber is a unique book for John Grisham. Not because he wrote it as a book instead of as a movie. Not because the character development is better than average. But because (1) there is description and (2) Grisham is trying to preach a message in this book. He has done that before, but not too this extent.

This book started out fairly good. You see young Sam Cayhall, part of the Klan, involved in a crime scene where he was charged and later put on trial for an act of terrorism. Well, the book starts to scan the next twenty years and you see that he is let off the hook twice in a row. On the third trial attempt, Sam is indicted for bombing a building and killing a couple of children. This was all true, but there was a partner that should have been put on trial as well. Instead, he escaped while Sam was caught. So he is convicted and put on Death Row. As usual, his wait spans more than a decade. This is where chapter two or three begins.

It starts out in modern times and you are introduced to, yet another young lawyer, Sam's grandson, Adam Hall.

Well, for all the years that Sam has been in jail, he has become a family taboo. That is, up until Adam decides to represent him for the last month before he is scheduled to be executed. Well, the meeting of Adam and Sam (at around page 70) is fairly interesting. Once Sam agrees to have his grandson represent him as lawyer, the book slows down immensely. It becomes overly redundant for awhile. The whole point of the middle four hundred pages was to develop the character of Adam. Grisham did this by exploring the Hall family. They turn out to be quite an odd family. You have everything from a near-suicidal aunt to a gay cousin. There was one amusing part during this investigation. While Adam was living with his Aunt Lee, he kept pushing her to answer questions about the family. In the end, all he succeeded in doing was reopen old wounds that slowly drove her mentally insane. She leaves town a little unstable in the head...

As if this wasn't bad enough, Adam was using his old grandfather to research his family. He forgot all about Sam, who had nothing to lose out of this... except his life.

The climax of the book is in the last 100 pages which takes place during the three days before Sam's scheduled execution. Because Adam wasted time investigating his family, he then had to cram his lawyer duties in the last three days. He had been using his grandfather for his own selfish gain up until then. Yes, It seemed selfish, and it did In fact, influence the outcome of the book, which will not be revealed.

However, by the end, around the last one hundred fifty pages, the book was extremely good... dare I say, "touching"?.

Grisham actually wrote an ending that wasn't full of fictional action sequences but rather an ending that was full of emotion and was quite realistic. It was this more "human" approach that made a lasting impression on me.

In The Chamber, John Grisham was preaching a message that Sam was a bad guy who did not deserve to die. In other words, he is against capital punishment. He managed to get the point across that Sam was a bad guy, but he didn't make it seem that Sam should have lived. Even though Sam became sincerely remorseful at the end, Grisham spent too much time vilifying him.

The Characters in this book weren't as stereotypical as some characters in his other books. However, Grisham still has a tendency to use the same clich�s over and over again. Also, this book does come out more "dark" than some of his others.

In conclusion, this book was slow after a decent beginning, but you should still read it for this "different" type of ending that John Grisham successfully attempts. Even if you have to read through 400 odd pages to get to it.

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