By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Summer Wildcat
John Grisham is by far my favorite author. Also, the man is my hero; he has millions of dollars, a law degree and the ability to write brilliantly.
Three of his four bestsellers, "The Firm," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Client," have each spent time as my favorite book and have been made into movies.
I was in this state of mind when I rushed out and bought his newest novel, "The Chamber," the day it was released. I cleared three days of my schedule, thinking I wouldn't be able to put the book down until I had finished it.
But unlike Grisham's other novels, "The Chamber" was easy to put down, which I did many times before I finished it. Although I'm glad I did eventually finish it, I was a little disappointed. I don't think this one will be making it to the big screen or the bestseller list.
"The Chamber" was not a bad book, but it wasn't John Grisham good. As usual, his characters and plot were realistic and easy to follow, but what was missing was the bad-guys-chasing-the-good-guys, run-for-your-life suspense of his other novels.
The biggest suspense in the novel was whether or not a 69-year-old man who has been on death row for over nine years would be executed. Sam Cayhall, the man you love to hate but have to feel sorry for, was convicted for a Ku Klux Klan bombing of a Jewish lawyer's office which killed the lawyer's two five-year-old sons.
Adam Hall, Cayhall's grandson lawyer who is opposed to the death penalty and wants to save his grandfather though the latter has destroyed Adam's family, arrives at Mississippi's death row after almost all of Cayhall's appeals have been exhausted.
In the process of getting to know his grandfather, Adam learns about Sam's involvement in Klan lynchings and other dark secrets from Sam's sordid past.
Grisham realistically portrays the effects of the KKK through Cayhall's son, Adam's father, who was driven to suicide, and Sam's alcoholic daughter, both of whom tried to forget their past.
Everyone, including the governor who could grant Cayhall clemency, knows Sam had an accomplice who actually constructed and planted the bomb, but Sam insists he acted alone. The man watches from a distance and makes preliminary efforts to get close to Adam and other members of Sam's family. This was the action that I hoped would add to the suspense of the novel, but nothing else ever came of it.
"The Chamber" was a well-written novel, a little slow at times, but a realistic historical account of both death row and the KKK in Mississippi in the 1950s. I haven't lost faith in Grisham yet. I just hope he picks up the pace next time. Read Next Article