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The Firm catapulted Grisham into the ranks of this country's most popular authors, spending 47 weeks on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list and 18 weeks as number one in paperback. Now Grisham has crafted another gripping tale of legal intrigue. A young boy is inadvertantly present at the bizarre suicide of a New Orleans defense attorney on the eve of the biggest trial of his career.
"Grisham is an absolute master!" —The Washington Post.
"Engrossing!" — San Francisco Chronicle.
"Absorbing... Wildly original... His best book yet." —Cosmopolitan.
The lawyer's nostrils flared as he inhaled mightily. He exhaled slowly and stared through the windshield while trying to determine if any of the precious, deadly gas had entered his blood and begun its work. A loaded pistol was on the seat next to him. A half-empty fifth of Jack Daniels was in his hand. He took a sip, screwed the cap on it, and placed it on the seat. He inhaled slowly and closed his eyes to savor the gas. Would he simply drift away? Would it hurt or burn or make him sick before it finished him off? The note was on the dash above the steering wheel, next to a bottle of pills.
He cried and talked to himself as he waited for the gas to hurry, dammit!, before he'd give up and use the gun. He was a coward, but a very determined one, and he much preferred this sniffing and floating away to sticking a gun in his mouth.
He sipped the whiskey, and hissed as it burned on its descent. Yes, it was finally working. Soon, it would all be over, and he smiled at himself in the mirror because it was working and he was dying and he was not a coward after all. It took guts to do this.
He cried and muttered as he removed the cap of the whiskey bottle for one last swallow. He gulped, and it ran from his lips and trickled into his beard.
He would not be missed. And although this thought should have been painful, the lawyer was calmed by the knowledge that no one would grieve. His mother was the only person in the world who loved him, and she'd been dead four years so this would not hurt her. There was a child from the first disastrous marriage, a daughter he'd not seen in eleven years, but he'd been told she had joined a cult and was as crazy as her mother.
It would be a small funeral. A few lawyer buddies and perhaps a judge or two would be there all dressed up in dark suits and whispering importantly as the piped-in organ music drifted around the near-empty chapel. No tears. The lawyers would sit and glance at their watches while the minister, a stranger, sped through the standard comments used for dear departed ones who never went to church.
It would be a ten-minute job with no frills. The note on the dash required the body to be cremated.
"Wow," he said softly as he took another sip. He turned the bottle up, and while gulping glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the weeds move behind the car.
Ricky saw the door open before Mark heard it. It flew open, as if kicked, and suddenly the large, heavy man with the red face was running through the weeds, holding onto the car and growling. Ricky stood, in shock and fear, and wet his pants.
Mark had just touched the bumper when he heard the door. He froze for a second, gave a quick thought to crawling under the car, and the hesitation nailed him. His foot slipped as he tried to stand and run, and the man grabbed him. "You! You little bastard!" he screamed as he grabbed Mark's hair and flung him onto the trunk of the car. "You little bastard!" Mark kicked and squirmed, and a fat hand slapped him in the face. He kicked once more, not as violently, and he got slapped again.
Mark stared at the wild, glowing face just inches away. The eyes were red and wet. Fluids dripped from the nose and chin. "You little bastard," he growled through clenched, dirty teeth.
When he had him pinned and still and subdued, the lawyer stuck the hose back into the exhaust pipe, then yanked Mark off the trunk by his collar and dragged him through the weeds to the driver's door, which was open. He threw the kid through the door and shoved him across the black leather seat.
Mark was grabbing at the door handle and searching for the door lock switch when the man fell behind the steering wheel. He slammed the door behind him, pointed at the door handle, and screamed, "Don't touch that!" Then he backhanded Mark in the left eye with a vicious slap.
Mark shrieked in pain, grabbed his eyes and bent over, stunned, crying now. His nose hurt like hell and his mouth hurt worse. He was dizzy. He tasted blood. He could hear the man crying and growling. He could smell the whiskey and see the knees of his dirty blue jeans with his right eye. The left was beginning to swell. Things were blurred.
The fat lawyer gulped his whiskey and stared at Mark, who was all bent over and shaking at every joint. "Stop crying," he snarled.
Mark licked his lips and swallowed blood. He rubbed the knot above his eye and tried to breathe deeply, still staring at his jeans. Again, the man said, "Stop crying," so he tried to stop.
The engine was running. It was a big, heavy, quiet car, but Mark could hear the engine humming very softly somewhere far away. He turned slowly and glanced at the hose winding through the rear window behind the driver like an angry snake sneaking toward them for the kill. The fat man laughed.
"I think we should die together," he announced, all of a sudden very composed.
Mark's left eye was swelling fast. He turned his shoulders and looked squarely at the man, who was even larger now. His face was chubby, the beard was bushy, the eyes were still red and glowed at him like a demon in the dark. Mark was crying. "Please let me out of here," he said, lip quivering, voice cracking.
The driver stuck the whiskey bottle in his mouth and turned it up. He grimaced and smacked his lips. "Sorry, kid. You had to be a cute ass, had to stick your dirty little nose into my business, didn't you? So I think we should die together. Okay? Just you and me, pal. Off to La La Land. Off to see the wizard. Sweet dreams, kid."
Mark sniffed the air, then noticed the pistol lying between them. He glanced away, then stared at it when the man took another drink from the bottle.
"You want the gun?" the man asked.
"So why are you looking at it?"
"Don't lie to me, kid, because if you do, I'll kill you. I'm crazy as hell, okay, and I'll kill you." Though tears flowed freely from his eyes, his voice was very calm. He breathed deeply as he spoke. "And besides, kid, if we're gonna be pals, you've got to be honest with me. Honesty's very important, you know? Now, do you want the gun?"
"Would you like to pick up the gun and shoot me with it?"
"I'm not afraid of dying, kid, you understand?"
"Yes sir, but I don't want to die. I take care of my mother and my little brother."
"Aw, ain't that sweet. A real man of the house."
He screwed the cap onto the whiskey bottle, then suddenly grabbed the pistol, stuck it deep into his mouth, curled his lips around it, and looked at Mark, who watched every move, hoping he would pull the trigger and hoping he wouldn't. Slowly, he withdrew the barrel from his mouth, kissed the end of it, then pointed it at Mark.
"I've never shot this thing, you know," he said, almost in a whisper. "Just bought it an hour ago at a pawnshop in Memphis. Do you think it'll work?"
"Please let me out of here."
"You have a choice, kid," he said, inhaling the invisible fumes. "I'll blow your brains out, and it's over now, or the gas'll get you. Your choice."
Mark did not look at the pistol. He sniffed the air and thought for an instant that maybe he smelled something. The gun was close to his head. "Why are you doing this?" he asked.
"None of your damned business, okay, kid. I'm nuts, okay. Over the edge. I planned a nice little private suicide, you know, just me and my hose and maybe a few pills and some whiskey. Nobody looking for me. But, no, you have to get cute. You little bastard!" He lowered the pistol and carefully placed it on the seat. Mark rubbed the knot on his forehead and bit his lip. His hands were shaking and he pressed them between his legs.
"We'll be dead in five minutes," he announced officially as he raised the bottle to his lips. "Just you and me, pal, off to see the wizard."
Ricky finally moved. His teeth chattered and his jeans were wet, but he was thinking now, moving from his crouch onto his hands and knees and sinking into the grass. He crawled toward the car, crying and gritting his teeth as he slid on his stomach. The door was about to fly open. The crazy man, who was large but quick, would leap from nowhere and grab him by the neck, just like Mark, and they'd all die in the long, black car. Slowly, inch by inch, he pushed his way through the weeds.
Mark slowly lifted the pistol with both hands. It was as heavy as a brick. It shook as he raised it and pointed it at the fat man, who leaned toward it until the barrel was an inch from his nose.
"Now, pull the trigger, kid," he said with a smile, his wet face glowing and dancing with delightful anticipation. "Pull the trigger, and I'll be dead and you go free." Mark curled a finger around the trigger. The man nodded, then leaned even closer and bit the tip of the barrel with flashing teeth. "Pull the trigger!" he shouted.
Mark closed his eyes and pressed the handle of the gun with the palms of his hands. He held his breath, and was about to squeeze the trigger when the man jerked it from him. He waved it wildly in front of Mark's face, and pulled the trigger. Mark screamed as the window behind his head cracked into a thousand pieces but did not shatter. "It works! It works!" he yelled as Mark ducked and covered his ears.
Ricky buried his face in the grass when he heard the shot. He was ten feet from the car when something popped and Mark yelled. The fat man was yelling, and Ricky peed on himself again. He closed his eyes and clutched the weeds. His stomach cramped and his heart pounded, and for a minute after the gunshot he did not move. He cried for his brother, who was dead now, shot by a crazy man.
"Stop crying, dammit! I'm sick of your crying!"
Mark clutched his knees and tried to stop crying. His head pounded and his mouth was dry. He stuck his hands between his knees and bent over. He had to stop crying and think of something. On a television show once some nut was about to jump off a building, and this cool cop just kept talking to him and talking to him, and finally the nut started talking back and of course did not jump. Mark quickly smelled for gas, and asked, "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I want to die," the man said calmly.
"Why?" he asked again, glancing at the neat, little round hole in his window.
"Why do kids ask so many questions?"
"Because we're kids. Why do you want to die?" He could barely hear his own words.
"Look, kid, we'll be dead in five minutes, okay? Just you and me, pal, off to see the wizard." He took a long drink from the bottle, now almost empty. "I feel the gas, kid. Do you feel it? Finally."
In the side mirror, through the cracks in the window, Mark saw the weeds move and caught a glimpse of Ricky as he slithered through the weeds and ducked into the bushes near the tree. He closed his eyes and said a prayer.
"I gotta tell you, kid, it's nice having you here. No one wants to die alone. What's your name?"
"Mark Sway." Keep talking, and maybe the nut won't jump. "What's your name?"
"Jerome. But you can call me Romey. That's what my friends call me, and since you and I are pretty tight now you can call me Romey. No more questions, okay, kid?"
"Why do you want to die, Romey?"
"I said no more questions. Do you feel the gas, Mark?"
"I don't know."
"You will soon enough. Better say your prayers." Romey sank low into the seat with his beefy head straight back and eyes closed, completely at ease. "We've got about five minutes, Mark, any last words?" The whiskey bottle was in his right hand, the gun in his left.
"Yeah, why are you doing this?" Mark asked, glancing at the mirror for another sign of his brother. He took short, quick breaths through the nose, and neither smelled nor felt anything. Surely Ricky had removed the hose.
"Because I'm crazy, just another crazy lawyer, right. I've been driven crazy, Mark, and how old are you?"
"Ever tasted whiskey?"
"No," Mark answered truthfully.
Suddenly, the whiskey bottle was in his face, and he took it.
"Take a shot," Romey said without opening his eyes.
Mark tried to read the label, but his left eye was virtually closed and his ears were ringing from the gunshot, and he couldn't concentrate. He sat the bottle on the seat where Romey took it without a word.
"We're dying, Mark," he said almost to himself. "I guess that's tough at age eleven, but so be it. Nothing I can do about it. Any last words, big boy?"
Mark told himself that Ricky had done the trick, that the hose was now harmless, that his new friend Romey here was drunk and crazy, and that if he survived he would have to do so by thinking and talking. The air was clean. He breathed deeply and told himself that he could make it. "What made you crazy?"
Romey thought for a second and decided this was humorous. He snorted and actually chuckled a little. "Oh, this is great. Perfect. For weeks now, I've known something no one else in the entire world knows, except my client, who's a real piece of scum, by the way. You see, Mark, lawyers hear all sorts of private stuff that we can never repeat. Strictly confidential, you understand. No way we can ever tell what happened to the money or who's sleeping with who or where the body's buried, you follow?" He inhaled mightily, and exhaled with enormous pleasure. He sank lower in the seat, eyes still closed. "Sorry I had to slap you." He curled his finger around the trigger.
Mark closed his eyes and felt nothing.
"How old are you, Mark?"
"You told me that. Eleven. And I'm forty-four. We're both too young to die, aren't we, Mark?"
"But it's happening, pal. Do you feel it?"
"My client killed a man and hid the body, and now my client wants to kill me. That's the whole story. They've made me crazy. Ha! Ha! This is great, Mark. This is wonderful. I, the trusted lawyer, can now tell you, literally seconds before we float away, where the body is. The body, Mark, the most notorious undiscovered corpse of our time. Unbelievable. I can finally tell!" His eyes were open and glowing down at Mark. "This is funny as hell, Mark!"
Mark missed the humor. He glanced at the mirror, then at the door lock switch a foot away. The handle was even closer.
Romey relaxed again and closed his eyes as if trying desperately to take a nap. "I'm sorry about this, kid, really sorry, but, like I said, it's nice to have you here." He slowly placed the bottle on the dash next to the note and moved the pistol from his left hand to his right, caressing it softly and stroking the trigger with his index finger. Mark tried not to look. "I'm really sorry about this, kid. How old are you?"
"Eleven. You've asked me three times."
"Shut up! I feel the gas now, don't you? Quit sniffing, dammit! It's odorless, you little dumbass. You can't smell it. I'd be dead now and you'd be off playing GI Joe if you hadn't been so cute. You're pretty stupid, you know."
Not as stupid as you, thought Mark. "Who did your client kill?"
Romey grinned but did not open his eyes. "A United States Senator. I'm telling. I'm telling. I'm spilling my guts. Do you read newspapers?"
"I'm not surprised. Senator Boyette from New Orleans. That's where I'm from."
"Why did you come to Memphis?"
"Dammit, kid! Full of questions, aren't you?"
"Yeah. Why'd your client kill Senator Boyette?"
"Why, why, why, who, who, who. You're a real pain in the ass, Mark."
"I know. Why don't you just let me go?" Mark glanced at the mirror, then at the hose running into the backseat.
"I might just shoot you in the head if you don't shut up." His bearded chin dropped and almost touched his chest. "My client has killed a lot of people. That's how he makes money, by killing people. He's a member of the Mafia in New Orleans, and now he's trying to kill me. Too bad, ain't it, kid. We beat him to it. Joke's on him."
Romey took a long drink from the bottle and stared at Mark.
"Just think about it, kid, right now, Barry, or Barry The Blade as he's known, these Mafia guys all have cute nicknames, you know, is waiting for me in a dirty restaurant in New Orleans. He's probably got a couple of his pals nearby, and after a quiet dinner he'll want me to get in the car and take a little drive, talk about his case and all, and then he'll pull out a knife, that's why they call him The Blade, and I'm history. They'll dispose of my chubby little body somewhere, just like they did Senator Boyette, and, bam!, just like that, New Orleans has another unsolved murder. But we showed them, didn't we, kid? We showed them."
His speech was slower and his tongue thicker. He moved the pistol up and down on his thigh when he talked. The finger stayed on the trigger.
Keep him talking. "Why does this Barry guy want to kill you?"
"Another question. I'm floating. Are you floating?"
"Yeah. It feels good."
"Buncha reasons. Close your eyes, kid. Say your prayers." Mark watched the pistol and glanced at the door lock. He slowly touched each fingertip to each thumb, like counting in kindergarten, and the coordination was perfect.
"So where's the body?"
Romey snorted and his head nodded. The voice was almost a whisper. "The body of Boyd Boyette. What a question. First U.S. Senator murdered in office, did you know that? Murdered by my dear client Barry The Blade Muldanno, who shot him in the head four times, then hid the body. No body, no case. Do you understand, kid?"
"Why aren't you crying, kid? You were crying a few minutes ago. Aren't you scared?"
"Yes, I'm scared. And I'd like to leave. I'm sorry you want to die and all, but I have to take care of my mother."
"Touching, real touching. Now, shut up. You see, kid, the Feds have to have a body to prove there was a murder. Barry is their suspect, their only suspect, because he really did it, you see, in fact they know he did it. But they need the body."
"Where is it?"
A dark cloud moved in front of the sun and the clearing was suddenly darker. Romey moved the gun gently along his leg as if to warn Mark against any sudden moves. "The Blade is not the smartest thug I've ever met, you know. Thinks he's a genius, but he's really quite stupid."
You're the stupid one, Mark thought again. Sitting in a car with a hose running from the exhaust. He waited as still as could be.
"The body's under my boat."
"Yes, my boat. He was in a hurry. I was out of town, so my beloved client took the body to my house and buried it in fresh concrete under my garage. It's still there, can you believe it? The FBI has dug up half of New Orleans trying to find it, but they've never thought about my house. Maybe Barry ain't so stupid after all."
"When did he tell you this?"
"I'm sick of your questions, kid."
"I'd really like to leave now."
"Shut up. The gas is working. We're gone, kid. Gone." He dropped the pistol on the seat.
The engine hummed quietly. Mark glanced at the bullet hole in the window, at the millions of tiny crooked cracks running from it, then at the red face and heavy eyelids. A quick snort, almost a snore, and the head nodded downward.
He was passing out! Mark stared at him and watched his thick chest move. He'd seen his ex-father do this a hundred times.
Mark breathed deeply. The door lock would make noise. The gun was too close to Romey's hand. Mark's stomach cramped and his feet were numb.
The red face emitted a loud, sluggish noise, and Mark knew there would be no more chances. Slowly, ever so slowly, he inched his shaking finger to the door lock switch.
Ricky's eyes were almost as dry as his mouth, but his jeans were soaked. He was under the tree, in the darkness, away from the bushes and the tall grass and the car. Five minutes had passed since he had removed the hose. Five minutes since the gunshot. But he knew his brother was alive because he had darted behind trees for fifty feet until he caught a glimpse of the blond head sitting low and moving about in the huge car. So he stopped crying, and started praying.
He made his way back to the log, and as he crouched low and stared at the car and ached for his brother, the passenger door suddenly flew open, and there was Mark.
Romey's chin dropped onto his chest, and just as he began his next snore Mark slapped the pistol onto the floor with his left hand while unlocking the door with his right. He yanked the handle and rammed his shoulder into the door, and the last thing he heard as he rolled out was another deep snore from the lawyer.
He landed on his knees and grabbed at the weeds as he scratched and clawed his way from the car. He raced low through the grass and within seconds made it to the tree where Ricky watched in muted horror. He stopped at the stump and turned, expecting to see the lawyer lumbering after him with the gun. But the car appeared harmless. The passenger door was open. The engine was running. The exhaust pipe was free of devices. He breathed for the first time in a minute, then slowly looked at Ricky.
"I pulled the hose out," Ricky said in a shrill voice between rapid breaths. Mark nodded but said nothing. He was suddenly much calmer. The car was fifty feet away, and if Romey emerged, they could disappear through the woods in an instant. And hidden by the tree and the cover of the brush, they would never be seen by Romey if he decided to jump out and start blasting away with the gun.
"I'm scared, Mark. Let's go," Ricky said, his voice still shrill, his hands shaking.
"Just a minute." Mark studied the car intently.
"Come on, Mark. Let's go."
"I said just a minute."
Ricky watched the car. "Is he dead?"
"I don't think so."
So the man was alive, and had the gun, and it was becoming obvious that his big brother was no longer scared and was thinking of something. Ricky took a step backward. "I'm leaving," he mumbled. "I want to go home."
Mark did not move. He exhaled calmly and studied the car. "Just a second," he said without looking at Ricky. The voice had authority again.
Ricky grew still and leaned forward, placing both hands on both wet knees. He watched his brother, and shook his head slowly as Mark carefully picked a cigarette from his shirt pocket while staring at the car. He lit it, took a long draw, and blew smoke upward to the branches. It was at this point that Ricky first noticed the swelling.
"What happened to your eye?"
Mark suddenly remembered. He rubbed it gently, then rubbed the knot on his forehead. "He slapped me a couple of times."
"It looks bad."
"It's okay. You know what I'm gonna do?" he said without expecting an answer. "I'm gonna sneak back up there and stick the hose into the exhaust pipe. I'm gonna plug it in for him, the bastard."
"You're crazier than he is. You're kidding, right, Mark?"
Mark puffed deliberately. Suddenly, the driver's door swung open, and Romey stumbled out with the pistol. He mumbled loudly as he faltered to the rear of the car, and once again found the garden hose lying harmlessly in the grass. He screamed obscenities at the sky.
Mark crouched low and held Ricky with him. Romey spun around and surveyed the trees around the clearing. He cursed more, and started crying loudly. Sweat dripped from his hair, and his black jacket was soaked and glued to him. He stomped around the rear of the car, sobbing and talking, screaming at the trees.
He stopped suddenly, wrestled his ponderous bulk onto the top of the trunk, then squirmed and slid backward like a drugged elephant until he hit the rear window. His stumpy legs stretched before him. One shoe was missing. He took the gun, neither slowly nor quickly, almost routinely, and stuck it deep in his mouth. His wild red eyes flashed around, and for a second paused at the trunk of the tree above the boys.
He opened his lips and bit the barrel with his big, dirty teeth. He closed his eyes, and pulled the trigger with his right thumb.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted January 7, 2012
Posted July 31, 2011
I watched the movie first and then I read the book. I am so impressed as to how much I loved the book. The movie was great but the book lets you really get into the action. If you are not sure as to if you really want to read this book, well I am here to tell you that you will not be sorry for buying it. Once you get started reading it, it is very hard to put it down. YOU WILL ENJOY READING THIS BOOK!!!
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Really liked the movie and wondered if the book was good or not. So I read it and kept turning page after page, wanting to know what was going to happen. Would Mark talk or not? What will happen to his family? It all started when Mark and Ricky saw the car and the lawyer and then Mark's told the secret. I've heard of John Grisham and his books like the Firm for example. The Client's now one of my favorites and is an easy read. Mark is a brave character including Reggie Love. The book has more details concerning the characters. Like how it goes from Mark than to the other characters and you get an idea on what they're like and etc. This book is more towards the kind of reader that likes murder mysteries and suspense. Overall a good read and recommend the movie.
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 17, 2013
Posted July 14, 2012
This book is beutifully written full of the suspense that john grisham has made us love this book goes through the traumatic experiance a poor child has gotten himself into along with his brother in a coma, an a oppressive d.a. who is hoping for a hire office, a lawyer who kills himself, and a child who knows a little too much.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 16, 2014
Posted February 1, 2014
This is the third time that I have read this book and find it enjoyable every time. I feel this is John Grisham at his best. It is a story of two young boys who witness a suicide that forever changes their lives. With the help of Attorney Reggie Love they work through the legal system. Action packed and never dull.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2014
Posted September 25, 2013
Posted September 10, 2012
i attend West Boca Raton Community High....ive never liked reading but ever since we go a NOOKS in my intensive reading clas ive fell in love with reading THE CLIENT....Jim your the best ever since we began reading your book ive never stopped reading it...i wish i could get all of your books but unfortunately i cant ....but thankss best book by the way¿Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 7, 2012
Posted August 14, 2012
Posted June 12, 2012
Posted May 17, 2012
Posted March 25, 2012
Posted January 29, 2012
I was really interested to read Grisham books. Few of my friends recommended his work. "The Client" is the first Grisham novel that I'd read. It's neither a bad or a good piece of literature. I'd like to say that I'd also watched the film adaptation but it never gave me the satisfaction of its theme. The only thing that kept my attention is the relationship of the young boy and her lady lawyer. I think this book will catch the interest of readers who love court room dramas.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2012
The plot sounded fantastic but the story was just mediocre Grisham can do much much better but if you want a quick read its good for the beach or a vacation but not if you want something thought provokingWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2011
Posted December 4, 2011
Posted July 5, 2011
This is the first book I read from John, it wont be my last.. Action packed, heart racing thrill...I rented the movie after i read the book and as usual the book was so much better.. I just bought a time to kill highly recommend, by friends cant wait to get into it..Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.