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The King of Torts
The King of Torts
Author: John Grisham
The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless m...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780440241539
ISBN-10: 0440241537
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 480
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.

3.7 stars, based on 956 ratings
Publisher: Dell
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The King of Torts on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Clay is a Public Defender lawyer who gets approached by a guy who seems to have no identity to take up a Tort case and make instant millions. He does, and is given info for another case, and another. Along the way, he becomes completely self-absorbed, cocky, and obsessed with image. What utter crap. Why take a main character and make him so unlikeable? Predictably, he falls, and falls hard. And I couldn't care less. I'm really surprised, given that I adored so many of Grisham's other books (The Firm, The Client, The Rainmaker).
scrapbooklady avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 472 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
"The King of Torts" is classic Grisham, in the form of "A Time to Kill, " The Firm, and "The Pelican Brief"... While "The King of Torts" still doesn't quite measure up, it is incredibly good...What makes "The King of Torts" so good is the conceptual elements fans have grown to love about Grisham's thrillers: an underdog young attorney, a mysterious and clandestine protagonist, greasy "ambulance-chasing" attorneys and unscrupulous corporations. In the end, as always, it's all about the dollar.

Our "hero" in this thriller is J. Clay Carter II, a low-paid public defender in Washington, D.C. Clay has a well-to-do fiancee, Rebecca Van Horn who, along with her pugnacious mother and father continually nettle Clay to take a more lucrative job. His future in-laws are everything Clay despises. When he rejects Mr. Van Horn's offer of a corporate position making more than twice his Public Defender pay, Rebecca dumps him for an geeky Ivy Leaguer.

Concurrent with his personal life heading south, Clay has just been ambushed into handling the defense of Tequila Watson, a young black man who shot a friend named Pumpkin. Although totally unmoved, Clay is intrigued as to why Tequila can't remember killing Pumpkin. It's as though his mind has been washed away...with drugs, Clay suspects. After issuing subpoenas for all the medical files from the street-tough drug rehabilitation center where Tequila was being treated, Clay gets the call of his young life. As Grisham describes him, "the man in black." Clay meets the man in black, Max Pace, an ex-lawyer cum "fireman," hired to solve problems on behalf of a variety of unnamed companies. His current "project" is on behalf of a major pharmaceutical company, which has just pulled the plug on a bad drug...a drug that has the side effects of making ex-addicts kill for no apparent reason. Pace's job for Clay? Offer the victims' families large settlements not to pursue any potential investigation or legal action. For this, Clay will receive a cool $15 million. Clay takes an extremely short moment and decides that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Why, he would be foolish to turn it down, wouldn't he?

Sure to his word, Max makes Clay a millionaire with a few short weeks of work. And, to add pleasure to ecstasy, Max has another, much larger "deal" for Clay. This deal involves another bad drug but this time, Clay gets to play the mass tort game. This, all from "tips" provided by the mysterious Max Pace. As Clay's new lawsuit takes form, he lands thousands of class-action suits and is dubbed by the major media "The King of Torts." As the pitiful pharmaceutical company decides to settle with Clay and his newly minted legal bretheren, Clay is two-for-two, only this time, his take isn't $15 million; it's $100 million! Like taking candy from a baby. Clay believes he's this good and here comes the element creating problems for most, greed.

As Clay acquires a yacht, a private plane, an island retreat and a trophy girlfriend, he burns through his new found wealth at an astonishing pace both for pleasure and in funding his next legal bonanza. But, like Mitch McDeere, Grisham's protagonist in "The Firm", Clay soon learns that his newly acquired riches come with a price he can't afford to pay.

Grisham's glimpse into the world of mass tort attorneys is poignant and timely. How many commercials do we see on television from those soliciting our aches, pains, and more frighteningly, our health. The multi-million dollar advertising campaigns they use to attract clients and the huge sums they extract from big corporations are astonishing.

Unlike many of the Hollywood stories, not all mass tort actions have "happy" endings. In some cases, attornys undeservingly obtain riches simply because the defendant corporation believes it can spend less to settle than to litigate. At some surreal level, this crack in our legal system is one that is uncomfortable at best; horrifying at worst. In many cases, good, well-intentioned companies are forced into bankruptcy and the victims, who suffered the most, are left with little after attorney's fees.

Grisham sets a good pace for this storyline and develops the characters quite well. The only problem I saw with the book is, having set up strong characters and revealed the conspiracy, Grisham spins the story to a condensed close. While this glimpse of the Grisham of old is encouraging, the sprial down to climax was a return to the recent past. This doesn't spoil the book, as a whole, but it does bring the awestruck level down to solid.

A good book, a fun read. I hope this is a peek into Grisham's future direction.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Grisham can be hit or miss with me. This wasn't a difficult read, but it wasn't particularly fun either. I have a much better understanding for the US 'tort' system than I did before the book, and now agree that we need to do something to fix it, but I still have no idea what.
Back to the book. The biggest problem for me is that there were no likable characters. I never liked the protagonist. He's a young lawyer (like most of Grisham's protagonists), but he isn't particularly strong-willed or smart or super-ethical or any of the other things that make Grisham's protagonists likable. Instead he seems to be a stand-in for the prototypical dispised, money-grubbing lawyer.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Only John Grisham can produce such interesting novels. This one is interesting with the main culpert being a pharmaceutical company.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
If you are a fan of John Grisham, then you will like this book. I enjoyed it, but I did not feel it was as good as some of his others, such as The Pelican Brief or The Client. This is a different book, and more of a morality tale. It is not a mystery, but the tale of the rise and fall of a tort lawyer.
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reviewed The King of Torts on + 18 more book reviews
Typical Grisham legal thriller with a message. This time he takes on tort litigation. If you love Grisham's style you'll enjoy this book.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 19 more book reviews
John Grisham always provides a story that's hard to put down!
schiffer avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 5 more book reviews
At first glance at the summary of the back jacket of the novel âThe King of Tortsâ gives the implication that the novel would involve the main character defending his client against a famous and powerful company. However, upon reading it, this clearly isn't the case. Though Tequila Watson, the client, plays an important part of the outcome of Clay Carter, he only makes cameo appearances.

The story deals with Clay Carter, a defense lawyer whom is overworked and underpaid. Upon chance he was chosen for the case of Tequila Watson, whom is charged for murder. A case which he wish to avoid. As he digs in to the past of Tequila Watson, he found a unusual and interesting fact. That Tequila Watson, even though have several drugged and violence charges, had never have a violent act. It seems the murder happened at random. He encounter an colleague that has a similar case, murder without reason, except for this case, the accused has many violence charges. He began to feel something underneath of all.

Then he was contacted by a man by the name of Max Pace, he propose a opportunity to become rich. With one reason, that Clay drop the Tequila Watson's case and take the victims' case. Max Pace was hired by a large company that created a drug call Tarvan, a drug that can kill all addictions, smoke, crack and all other. It is tested in many countries in rehab centers and when brought into the U.S. Tequila Watson was among the first to take it. However, as marvel as the drug is, it has one issue. When it is stopped, the person would develop an urge to kill within the first ten days.

Realizing this, the company that made the drug was in frantic, if anyone were to find out, they would be ruined. Thus they hired Max Pace, a firefighter, to hire a lawyer to represent all the victims of the drug and have a settlement before it becomes big. And Clay was chosen.

When I read up to this point, I though Clay was going to refuse, defend Tequila's innocents and charge the company for the blame. But as I reconsider - and as Clay stated - no one in hell would fight this case. Clay didn't have the information nor the money to fight. So Clay sold his soul and makes a fortune.

As Clay's success grew and grew, I started to have a bad feeling of it, this is going way too smoothly and easy. Clay began to be control by his money; spend it so lavishly on useless items such as a jet plane and a villa. He had become one of those lawyers he saw in the hotel of Royal Sonesta in New Orleans. His righteousness is gone. Money is all he wanted and needed. Finally he was on top of the world, King of Torts, admired by all.

However, his fall also came swiftly as it his success. Suddenly the world was crashing down and there's no way to avoid it. As he saw the mess he had caused, the pain he put on his clients and companies and many other innocent people, he filed for bankruptcy and leave D.C. for good.

Although the novel was enjoyable, I felt quite disappointed by the lack of a central case. There are so many cases/problems in the novel that not one stands out as the main plot.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 204 more book reviews
This was a very well written story that had me chuckling at some parts. The characters are not as well developed as Grisham has done in his other works. I would like to know a little about the main character so I could have gotten a feel for him better. I think if this would have happened I may have enjoyed the book more.
76kendra avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 2 more book reviews
This Grisham novel is one of my personal favorites! A lot of litigation and legal terms, and yet again Grisham makes it an easy read for all of his fans. A great story line kept me reading for hours!
spiritedbabe59 avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 106 more book reviews
This is one of the few books of Grisham's that I was actually able to read in book form. I'm not sure what it is about his writing style that makes it less enjoyable for me in print. The rest of his novels I'd digested in audio form and loved them. This was a great read by a master story teller and really opened my eyes to who really wins in tort cases.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 9 more book reviews
King of Torts is one of John Grisham's best books, at least in my opinion.

Well written, holds your attention the entire book through.
You don't want to put it down, as well as most of his books.

I highly recommend this book.
busterboomer avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 96 more book reviews
I was disappointed in this book, but it still taught me something. It shows how mass tort lawyers are only concerned about massive fees for themselves and the heck with the clients they represent. Wow, such greed. Then the main character, Clay Carter, gets caught up in this by some shyster who practically gives Clay everything on a silver platter to be rich. Grisham wanted to prove a point, but he could have done that in a better way.
MediumDebbi avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 92 more book reviews
This is a prototypical Grisham legal thriller,good lawyer turns bad and greedy. Clay Carter gains ridiculous wealth working in the class action market and becomes a household name in the legal buisness. A page turner and a satisfying one!
reviewed The King of Torts on + 17 more book reviews
reviewed The King of Torts on + 37 more book reviews
I feel like I learned a lot about Tort Law and about the things that go into settling big lawsuits.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 90 more book reviews
A lawyer digs into the background of his client and finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmacieutical companies in the world.
reviewed The King of Torts on + 15 more book reviews
Very good
reviewed The King of Torts on + 2 more book reviews
You won't put this book down until the last page. Full of suspense.
MKSbooklady avatar reviewed The King of Torts on + 944 more book reviews
John Grisham sure knows how to write them. I remember my grandmother telling me "Never bit off more than you can chew"-well our 'hero' should have listened to her. This is a story of greed, lies and more. Fast paced, as usual, maybe a little long, but still a good read.

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