The Client

By: John Grisham

Rating: 73%

Brief Summary: A kid sees too much and is caught between the legal system and the Mafia.

Wow, what a bore! The Client starts out very intriguing in the first chapter, but from then on out, it was all downhill. Don't get me wrong, things do happen in the story, yet, at times it feels as if it leads nowhere.

Like other Grisham books, this story takes place in the south. Specifically: Memphis, Tennessee.

It begins with a young boy, Mark Sway, and his little brother going out to smoke the dreaded cigarette. On the way, they witness a man kill himself. What makes this even more relevant is that this man tells Mark some very important secrets that ends up putting his family in jeopardy.

The Lawyers get involved trying to pry the truth out of Mark, but he refuses to tell. All the same while, the Mafia (a typical Grisham antagonist) is threatening the family making sure the truth is never spoken. In order to encourage Mark to reveal his secrets, the law enforcers decide to throw him in jail (more of a Juveniles Hall), until he gives them the desired information. This is where the saying, "in-between a rock and a hard place" seems to have come from. So to protect himself, he eventually hires a lawyer. Her name is Reggie Love. She is about fifty years old and takes the job for one dollar - obviously more out of charity.

The secret Mark was told involves (this is not a spoiler: you find it out in the first chapter) the Mafia who were responsible of the death of a U.S. Senator. They then buried him in their attorney's garage. And, yes, it is this attorney who kills himself in chapter one. Well, the only way Mark is able to solve this problem is to see if the secret is true. So he escapes from the "youth detainment center" and convinces his lawyer, Reggie, to come with him and find the body. The Mafia, of course, decides to do this at the same time, and they all meet in the end. I will not spoil the rest.

While this story - admittedly - sounds very interesting, most of what I just relayed takes place in the first chapter or the last chapter. Inbetween, however, are many chapters that are seemingly time fillers. They really do not go anywhere. In the end, the story finally does go somewhere, but it takes so long. On a positive note, because this is a very non-descriptive book, like most of Grisham's, it is a fast and an easy read.

The most glaring negative, I believe, are the characters. They were very forgettable, at best, and just plain annoying, at worst.

First of all, you have the little punk, Mark Sway. His disrespectful attitude gets tiresome. While most of Grisham's main adult characters have these can't-do-anything-wrong demeanors, they are sometimes entertaining, despite the obvious fiction. However, this kid has the same smooth-talking personalities they have. He just seems too smart for a ten-year old.

As far as the other characters go: almost none stand out. You have his little brother that was in a coma for most of the book because of what he witnessed. You have his mom who seemed very much down on her life, and lastly, you have Mark's lawyer. Reggie Love was the only redeeming aspect in the majority of this story, but not enough for me to think about reading The Client again. On a side note, the character was played wonderfully in the movie version by Susan Sarandon. Physically, however, her character does not match the one written in the novel. The film did do a decent job in displaying Reggie Love the person.

There is another highlight that is almost not worth mentioning because it is only a small part of the story. It is the small-town judge named Harry. This judge was nothing but comedy. He managed to shut down Roy Foltrigg (who I will mention in a moment) and his huge ego very easily. There was one scene in the courtroom that was, by far, the highlight of the story.

In The Client, there are two antagonists, Roy Foltrigg, and Barry "the Blade" Muldanno. However, neither of them have a major impact on the plot. Most of their underlings take care of the business. Barry was your stereotypical Mafia man who made no impact until the ending. The District Attorney, Roy Foltrigg (Tommy Lee Jones did a GREAT job out of a weakly developed character; although the film expanded his part tremendously) made LESS of an impact. He had about four lawyers working under him doing all of the work. All he did was flaunt his position around and let his ego rise.

The ending was obviously better than the rest of the book. It was mildly suspenseful... at best. You may even at times raise an eyebrow. That is, if you haven't already started to think about your next novel by this point.

So for the most part, The Client is one Grisham book that could be dropped to the bottom of your list. Definitely not terrible, but slightly below average on the Grisham scale.

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