John Grisham had spent some time away from his legal thrillers with a couple of homespun coming of age tales but returns to form in The Summons. Ray Atlee is the son of an old, dying retired Mississippi county judge, brother to an addict who can’t seem to chose a favorite substance to abuse, and a legal professor who can’t connect with women. Ray and the brother have been summoned home by their father but when Ray shows up the father is dead, having finally given in to the cancer. He finds $3 million in a cabinet in the house, which gives us the basis for our tale, and nearly has a nervous breakdown.
This is nowhere close to the level of suspense and complexity Grisham is capable of, or used to be, in novels like The Firm and The Rainmaker. We never get a reason why we ought to be cheering for Ray, other than the fact that he’s the main character and we meet him first. The explanation for the money’s source turns out to be reasonable, not mysterious, though not truly aboveboard. The source of danger is only mildly intense. Grisham has a way with words, no doubt, and I kept reading to the end, though I just turned out dissapointed.