|Author: John Grisham||Category: Courtroom thriller|
|Printed: February 1996||Number of pages: 598|
In this book, John Girsham introduces us to the young law student Rudy Baylor. Rudy is taking a course in "legal problems of the elderly" with professor Smoot. This somewhat boring class brings him on a field trip to the "Cypress Gardens Senior Citizens Building" along with his best friend Booker. Tough Rudy isn’t to thrilled with the idea of this excursion, but it turns out to be worth while. He gets a hold of two potential clients, Mrs. Birdie, and the Blacks, the lastmentioned slightly more promising than Mrs. Birdie, who want’s to rewrite her will for the 20th time.
The Black case is quite clearly a David vs. Goliath matter, being a major bad-faith case against one of the larger insurance companies around, Great Benefit. Dot Black explains to Rudy how the itinerant insurance agent sold them a health insurance, came back every week to collect the money, and suddenly vanish into thin air when they needed the money they had been promised. Therefore, Donny Ray Black is now is in the final stages of terminal leukaemia. A simple bone marrow transplant could have saved his life, but Great Benefit refused to pay for it. Now they relay Rudy, who has just filed for personal bankruptcy, has no job and has yet to pass the bar exam. Thus begins his adventure and his struggle to maintain his personal integrity and to uphold the legal ethics he has been taught.
Working as a "hustler" for a rather suspicious lawyer named Brusier, Rudy is supposed to cuff up some business by chasing all over town for potential personal injuries. While doing this, Rudy lands in a nearby hospital, where he tries to do some studying for the bar exam. Bruiser’s way of doing business isn’t very appealing to him, but when he met Bruiser, any other alternative seemed out of the question. With the police suspecting him for arson, (his former employer’s office was reduced to ashes only hours after they had disposed themselves of Rudy) and with his financially problems, Bruiser seemed like a last resource. Now it is time for Rudy to start the legal proceedings against Great Benefit.
While studying for the bar exam, Rudy becomes acquainted with a young girl, whose rowdy husband has left with several bruises after their last argument. And tough one should think most of his mind would be on the case or bar exam, Rudy somehow manages to find time to fall in love with her.
Of course heavyweight insurance companies like Great Benefit aren’t afraid of spinning some red tape trying to make the Blacks` go away. Rudy makes his first appearance in court, and is met by no less than five lawyers, led by the great Leo F. Drummond, from the Trent & Brent. The presiding judge is Harvey Hale, long time friend of Drummond, not very interested in having all these people in his courtroom. Therefore Drummond and His Honour try playing Rudy a dirty trick, offering to settle the matter for $75.000. However, Rudy doesn’t fall for this. It only makes him more determined to bring those bastards to justice.
A very unexpected even helps him do this. Harvey Hale is found dead, and is replaced by the black judge Tyrone Kipler. Suddenly, things are all in Rudy’s favour. Kipler’s background has made him develop a particular hate against insurance companies, and one thing’s for sure, he isn’t trying to make a secret of it. The new judge agrees to fast track the case, meaning that it will be going to the jury much sooner than normal. It is now time for the new examined lawyer to start the numerous depositions.
Development is rapid, and Rudy continues to reveal the darker sides of Great Benefit. The trial starts, and his production of evidence is staggering. Tough that will be of little use to Donny Ray, who already has passed on to a better world. Along with his new partner, Deck, who helped him split with Bruiser just before the feds came down on him, Rudy manages to get the enormous amount of 50 million dollars in punitive damages of behalf of his client. One third of this falls to them.
But here comes the bittersweet ending, Great Benefit, worth many times 50 mill. manages to file for bankruptcy, which means no one will get a penny in many years, and most likely, no one will ever get a penny from them. It doesn’t really matter to the Blacks since money can’t bring back their son. What matters to them, is the proving of Great Benefit’s wrongdoing. What matters to Rudy, is his new life with Kelly, starting with the ending of the trial.
This novel by John Grisham has been very well received, and after having read it, I understand why. This is a book you don’t want to close before you have reached the last page. The book is exciting, has got a sympathetic hero, and you can’t help but smile when the great Goliath gets his ass kicked in court. Mix, add John Grisham’s fantastic story telling and a smidgen of romance, and you get a book no one should leave unread