Pure and simple King Of Torts was a book about greed. Here Clay was a public defender barely scraping by with a paltry salary of a DC government employee. When his longtime girlfriend’s father offered him a lucrative job in corporate law he turned it down cold not because he didn’t want the near 200% salary increase but because he didn’t want to be beholden to his father-in-law. He also just wanted his girlfriend to want him for him and not for his title or pay. That was a good foundation for Clay to be seen as a decent human being and fighter for the underdog. So it seemed a bit odd when Clay did the exact opposite.
A man approached him with a scheme to make Clay an overnight multimillionaire and famous mass tort attorney while simultaneously requiring him to sell his soul to a new client. Grisham’s take on the greed of lawyers (especially mass tort class action ones) was spot on. It was both entertaining and sickening to read about these pompous men flaunting their millions by buying jets, yachts, and Caribbean vacation homes. The novel highlighted how the only people who really benefit from these cases are the attorneys. Clay went from a man who cared about his clients to one who easily stepped on them to obtain the largest attorney fee award he could get.
The mass tort process was summed up succinctly and was easy to understand. There were only small peaks in the legal plot, but were so understated I wouldn’t dare call this a legal thriller. Instead, this was a character study about how Clay would react to the unimaginable wealth bestowed upon him.
Because Clay hadn’t worked for the success he received, I wanted him to lose everything. I also just wasn’t that engaged with Clay as a character. Yes, he embodied greed and everything wrong with lawyers, but he didn’t have enough redeeming qualities to make me care about him.
Ugh. I keep holding out hope that Grisham’s books will return to the powerhouse legal thrillers he once gave us. This was not anywhere near the legal thrillers Grisham used to write and which are the reason I have continued to read his novels. After reading three of his latest books in quick succession, I’ve realized Grisham is focusing now on character studies rather than intricate legal plots. As a result, I am pretty sure this will be my last one from him for a while.