Clay Carter is a public defender doing boring, low-paid, through which every beginning lawyer is to go through. Carter has been there for too long, and this job does not bode anything to Carter… up to the point, when he takes up the case of Tequila Watson, a 20-year-old youth who has committed a murder seemingly without any reasons… Up to the point, when Carter realizes that beneath a hackneyed case there is a real case, which is difficult and dangerous, boding a huge amount of money. This case can become the start of a dazzling legal career – if Carter takes the risk and stakes his all…
This is the entanglement of the legal suspense thriller “The King of Torts” (2003) by John Grisham. The novel has a fast-pace and dynamic plot, which takes Carter from the mundane post of public defendant to the pecuniary cream of the society. John Grisham, a former lawyer and now a successful novelist, is known for his penetrating insights into the American legal system, made in his numerous earlier novels like “A Time to Kill”(1989) and “Runaway Jury” (1996).
This time Grisham takes on the “torts”, lawyers who lead suits against large corporations in the name of many people, who suffered from the actions or products of this company; the attorney receives a considerable percent from all payouts of all plaintiffs and his payout can be measured in billions. As Clay Carter engages into the case of Tequila Watson, he discovers an enormous conspiracy, where the big pharmaceutical company is involved. Tempted by the mysterious stranger Max, he plunges into tort business and is soon dubbed “king of torts” for his success.
He starts leading a luxurious life, living in a luxurious house and driving a black Porsche; however, everything has its price. The price of success for Carter is his moral and professional principles, which he eagerly sells in exchange for fame and fortune.
In this novel, Grisham makes a grim commentary on the American legal system, which has turned into a machine for earning money for attorneys. Apart from the exciting plot, the most gripping suspense lies in the attitude of the reader to the protagonist. Carter is evidently degrading, but will the reader find “extenuating circumstances” to justify him or at least to understand his downfall? This is a question, which you can answer only after turning the last page of this gripping thriller.
Grisham, J. (2003). The King of Torts. New York: Doubleday.