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The Client by John Grisham

The Client (original 1993; edition 2005)

by John Grisham

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10,70578674 (3.64)48
Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER ? In a weedy lot on the outskirts of Memphis, two  boys watch a shiny Lincoln pull up to the  curb....

Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his younger brother were sharing a forbidden cigarette when a chance encounter with a suicidal lawyer left Mark knowing  a bloody and explosive secret: the whereabouts of  the most sought-after dead body in America.

Now Mark is caught between a legal system gone mad and a mob killer desperate to cover up his crime. And his only ally is a woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer for all of four years. Prosecutors are  willing to break all the rules to make Mark talk. The  mob will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. And  Reggie will do anything to protect her client??even take a last, desperate gamble that could win  Mark his freedom... or cost them both their  
… (more)
Title:The Client
Authors:John Grisham
Info:Delta (2005), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

Work Information

The Client by John Grisham (1993)

  1. 20
    Defending Jacob by William Landay (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These legal thrillers are heavy hitters with emotional depth, developed characters, and frightening revelations. In both, the plot revolves around a young boy's involvement in a murder investigation and trial.
  2. 10
    My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (ShannonMDE)
    ShannonMDE: I think My Sister's Keeper had the feel of early John Grisham back when he wrote about people instead of corporations.

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The Client by John Grisham

Print: COPYRIGHT ©: March 1, 1993; ISBN: 9780385424714; PUBLISHER: Doubleday (Random House); PAGES: 422; UNABRIDGED (Info from Goodreads)
Digital: COPYRIGHT ©: March 1, 1993; PUBLISHER: Dell; PAGES: 642; UNABRIDGED (Info from Goodreads)

*Audio: COPYRIGHT ©: 2/4/2008; PUBLISHER: Books on Tape; DURATION: 14 hours (approx..); Unabridged; (Libby: LAPL)

Feature Film or tv: Yes, 1994. “The Client”


MAIN CHARACTERS: (Not comprehensive)
Mark Sway – 11-year-old boy
Ricky Sway – 8-year-old boy
Dianne Sway – Mark and Ricky’s mother
Reggie Love – A lawyer Mark hires
Momma Love – Reggie’s mom
(Reverend) Roy Foltrigg – U.S. Attorney
Boyd Boyette – New Orleans senator
Barry (the Blade) Muldano – Mafia gangster
Jason McThune – FBI head of Memphis office
Clint Von Hooser – Reggie Love’s secretary
Hardy – Memphis PD Sergeant
Thomas Fink – Assistant U.S. Attorney
Larry Trumann – FBI Special Agent
Doreen – Detention Center Attendant
Simon Greenway – Psychiatrist
Harry Roosevelt – Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge
Wally Boxx – Foltrigg’s chauffeur
Jerome (Romey) Clifford – Mafia Lawyer
Alfred (Slick) Moeller – Police Reporter
Paul Gronke – Mafia fixer

-SELECTED: It was next in line of my John Grisham reads.
-ABOUT: A couple of young boys witness a suicide and when the Mafia learns of their presence, they become worried that their lawyer may have divulged secrets before he died.
-LIKED: Very engaging. Excellent characters and plot!
-DISLIKED: There were a few times I thought something was a bit unlikely, like how much time a doctor was willing to devote to a single patient, or the ability to switch a hospital patient’s phone out with one that was directly tied to the outside and not linked into the hospital switchboard system in order to tap it. It seems they’d have had to use the room’s plug which *is* connected to the switchboard system—last I knew patient phones with direct dial numbers were all tied into the hospital’s system so that a caller could either call the hospital and be connected to the extension, or could call directly if they knew the room and it’s phone number, and it wasn’t the *phone* that manifested a connection, but the wall socket it plugs into. But, things are changing all the time and by now, I could be wrong—it’s been ages since I was a hospital switchboard operator. Besides, it’s fiction. It doesn’t have to match reality.
-OVERALL: Loved it!!!

John Grisham:
“Grisham, the second of five children, was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Wanda (née Skidmore) and John Ray Grisham.[6] His father was a construction worker and a cotton farmer, and his mother was a homemaker.[9] When Grisham was four years old, his family settled in Southaven, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.[6]
As a child, he wanted to be a baseball player.[8] As noted in the foreword to Calico Joe, Grisham gave up playing baseball at the age of 18, after a game in which a pitcher aimed a beanball at him, and narrowly missed doing the young Grisham grave harm.
Although Grisham's parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged him to read and prepare for college.[1] He drew on his childhood experiences for his novel A Painted House.[6] Grisham started working for a plant nursery as a teenager, watering bushes for $1.00 an hour. He was soon promoted to a fence crew for $1.50 an hour. He wrote about the job: "there was no future in it". At 16, Grisham took a job with a plumbing contractor but says he "never drew inspiration from that miserable work".[10]
Through one of his father's contacts, he managed to find work on a highway asphalt crew in Mississippi at age 17. It was during this time that an unfortunate incident got him "serious" about college. A fight with gunfire broke out among the crew causing Grisham to run to a nearby restroom to find safety. He did not come out until after the police had detained the perpetrators. He hitchhiked home and started thinking about college. His next work was in retail, as a salesclerk in a department store men's underwear section, which he described as "humiliating". By this time, Grisham was halfway through college. Planning to become a tax lawyer, he was soon overcome by "the complexity and lunacy" of it. He decided to return to his hometown as a trial lawyer.[11]
He attended the Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi and later attended Delta State University in Cleveland.[6] Grisham changed colleges three times before completing a degree.[1] He eventually graduated from Mississippi State University in 1977, receiving a B.S. degree in accounting. He later enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Law to become a tax lawyer, but his interest shifted to general civil litigation. He graduated in 1981 with a J.D. degree.[6]
After leaving law school, he participated in some missionary work in Brazil, under the First Baptist Church of Oxford.[12]” (__Wikipedia)

John MacDonald:
-“John MacDonald has narrated audiobooks by many bestselling and award-winning authors, including John Grisham, John Updike, and Tom Clancy. Some of his credits include The Centaur, The Client, and The Hunt for Red October.” (_Penguin RandomHouse Audio)
-“John MacDonald was born on August 2, 1968 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is an actor, known for The Incredible Hulk (2008), White House Down (2013) and Man of Steel (2013).” (_IMDb)
-MY IMPRESSION: Initially and throughout the introduction, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to listen to 16 hours of this narrator—he sounded a bit monotonically artificial, like an automated AI reader. Once the story began though, he did an excellent job.

Fiction; Mystery; Suspense; Thriller; Literature; Crime; Legal Thriller

Contemporary (1993)

Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana

SUBJECTS: Mafia; Criminals; Suicide; Child witnesses; Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Juvenile Detention

‘Didn’t find one.

From Chapter 1:
“The car slowed almost to a stop as it neared the clearing, then circled around, touching the tree limbs as it moved slowly. It stopped and faced the road. The boys were directly behind it and hidden from view. Mark slid off the log and crawled through the weeds to a row of brush at the edge of the clearing. Ricky followed. The rear of the Lincoln was thirty feet away. They watched it carefully. It had Louisiana license plates.

“What’s he doing?” Ricky whispered.

Mark peeked through the weeds. “Shhhhh!” He had heard stories around the trailer park of teenagers using these woods to meet girls and smoke pot, but this car did not belong to a teenager. The engine quit, and the car just sat there in the weeds for a minute. Then the door opened, and the driver stepped into the weeds and looked around. He was a chubby man in a black suit. His head was fat and round and without hair except for neat rows above the ears and a black-and-gray beard He stumbled to the rear of the car, fumbled with the keys, and finally opened the trunk. He removed a water hose, stuck one end into the exhaust pipe, and ran the other end through a crack in the left rear window. He closed the trunk, looked around again as if he were expecting to be watched, then disappeared into the car.

The engine started.

“Wow,” Mark said softly, staring blankly at the car.

“What’s he doing?” Ricky asked.

“He’s trying to kill himself.”

Ricky raised his head a few inches for a better view. “I don’t understand, Mark.”

“Keep down. You see the hose, right? The fumes from the tail pipe go into the car, and it kills him.”

“You mean suicide?”

“Right. I saw a guy do it like this in a movie once.”

They leaned closer to the weeds and stared at the hose running from the pipe to the window. The engine idled smoothly.

“Why does he want to kill himself?” Ricky asked.

“How am I supposed to know? But we gotta do something.”

“Yeah, let’s get the hell outta here.”

“No. Just be still a minute.”

“I’m leaving, Mark. You can watch him die if you want to, but I’m gone.”

Mark grabbed his brother’s shoulder and forced him lower. Ricky’s breathing was heavy and they were both sweating. The sun hid behind a cloud.

“How long does it take?” Ricky asked, his voice quivering.

“Not very long.” Mark released his brother and eased onto all fours. “You stay here, okay. If you move, I’ll kick your tail.”

“What’re you doing, Mark?”

“Just stay here. I mean it.” Mark lowered his thin body almost to the ground and crawled on elbows and knees through the weeds toward the car. The grass was dry and at least two feet tall. He knew the man couldn’t hear him, but he worried about the movement of the weeds. He stayed directly behind the car and slid snakelike on his belly until he was in the shadow of the trunk. He reached and carefully eased the hose from the tail pipe, and dropped it to the ground. He retraced his trail with a bit more speed, and seconds later was crouched next to Ricky, watching and waiting in the heavier grass and brush under the outermost limbs of the tree. He knew that if they were spotted, they could dart past the tree and down their trail and be gone before the chubby man could catch them.

They waited. Five minutes passed, though it seemed like an hour.

“You think he’s dead?” Ricky whispered, his voice dry and weak.

“I don’t know.”

Suddenly, the door opened, and the man stepped out. He was crying and mumbling, and he staggered to the rear of the car, where he saw the hose in the grass, and cursed it as he shoved it back into the tail pipe. He held a bottle of whiskey and looked around wildly at the trees, then stumbled back into the car. He mumbled to himself as he slammed the door.

The boys watched in horror.

“He’s crazy as hell,” Mark said faintly.

“Let’s get out of here,” Ricky said.

“We can’t! If he kills himself, and we saw it or knew about it, then we could get in all kinds of trouble.”

Ricky raised his head as if to retreat. “Then we won’t tell anybody Come on, Mark!”

Mark grabbed his shoulder again and forced him to the ground. “Just stay down! We’re not leaving until I say we’re leaving!”

Ricky closed his eyes tightly and started crying. Mark shook his head in disgust but didn’t take his eyes off the car. Little brothers were more trouble than they were worth. “Stop it,” he growled through clenched teeth.

“I’m scared.”

“Fine. Just don’t move, okay. Do you hear me? Don’t move. And stop the crying.” Mark was back on his elbows, deep in the weeds and preparing to ease through the tall grass once more.

“Just let him die, Mark,” Ricky whispered between sobs.

Mark glared at him over his shoulder and eased toward the car, which was still running. He crawled along his same trail of lightly trampled grass so slowly and carefully that even Ricky, with dry eyes now, could barely see him. Ricky watched the driver’s door, waiting for it to fly open and the crazy man to lunge out and kill Mark. He perched on his toes in a sprinter’s stance for a quick getaway through the woods. He saw Mark emerge under the rear bumper, place a hand for balance on the taillight, and slowly ease the hose from the tail pipe. The grass crackled softly and the weeds shook a little and Mark was next to him again, panting and sweating and, oddly, smiling to himself.

They sat on their legs like two insects under the brush, and watched the car.

“What if he comes out again?” Ricky asked. “What if he sees us?”

“He can’t see us. But if he starts this way, just follow me. We’ll be gone before he can take a step.”

“Why don’t we go now?”

Mark stared at him fiercely. “I’m trying to save his life, okay? Maybe, just maybe, he’ll see that this is not working, and maybe he’ll decide he should wait or something. Why is that so hard to understand?”

“Because he’s crazy. If he’ll kill himself, then he’ll kill us. Why is that so hard to understand?” Mark shook his head in frustration, and suddenly the door opened again. The man rolled out of the car growling and talking to himself, and stomped through the grass to the rear. He grabbed the end of the hose, stared at it as if it just wouldn’t behave, and looked slowly around the small clearing. He was breathing heavily and perspiring. He looked at the trees, and the boys eased to the ground. He looked down, and froze as if he suddenly understood. The grass was slightly trampled around the rear of the car and he knelt as if to inspect it, but then crammed the hose back into the tail pipe instead and hurried back to his door. If someone was watching from the trees, he seemed not to care. He just wanted to hurry up and die.

The two heads rose together above the brush, but just a few inches. They peeked through the weeds for a minute. Ricky was ready to run, but Mark was thinking.”


6-17-2023 to 6-23-2023 ( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
I revisited this story more than 20 years after I first read it, and was pleased to find that it held up reasonably well. The characters and plot are still interesting, and it was just as fun to see 11 year old Mark and his lawyer work to out-maneuver the politicians, the FBI, and the mob. Grisham's style doesn't hold up as well, and I wasn't as appreciative of the way he reveals his characters through random gobbets of exposition, but overall this is still an enjoyable story.

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. John MacDonald did an okay job on the narration, but the audio quality for this version was pretty bad. It sounded like a digitized conversion of an old audiocassette book on tape, with strange random stops to insert the next tape (or disc, maybe), and it's oddly draggy. I had to increase the playback speed to make it listenable. ( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
I realized I had never read a John Grisham novel, and I like law (I watch Legal Eagle and listen to podcasts about it.) So I thought I ought to remedy that, since the guy basically invented legal thrillers. (Is there such a thing as lawyerpunk? Justicepunk?)

The style reminds me of Memory Man. Straightforward, good with tension, tight with time. All the events take place in only three or five days. (The justice system can work fast when it wants to in the Grishamverse). The story doesn’t seem like a thriller or suspense novel, but it is. It’s just about a kid who learns where a murdered body is buried. The thrill comes from the police, the federal justice system, and the press, and the mob leaning on a kid is smart enough to seek out a lawyer.

What I love most about it is the characters. Everyone is distinct and charismatic. Some of them muddle together but you always know who’s on who’s team. No one is really a bad guy–they all think they are the main character in their story and following the right thing. The writing style itself is so simple that I’m surprised Grisham became as popular as he did, with sentences like “The hangar floor was crystallized concrete.” Lots of the imagery is described by simple sentences, non-purple prose. These days you have to be “Where the Crawdads Sing” to get popular. ( )
  theWallflower | Nov 13, 2023 |
Grisham stays upto his reputation, he has an uncanny knack of proselytizing Law into a racy fiction/plot. He never disappoints. ( )
  harishwriter | Oct 12, 2023 |
One heck of a story. Really enjoyable and never really knew where it was going. Great read. ( )
  MrMet | Apr 28, 2023 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Grishamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, BlairNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Ty and Shea
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Mark was eleven and had been smoking off and on for two years, never trying to quit but being careful not to get hooked.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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ISBN 185686331X is for an abridged audiobook.
ISBN 038542471X is NOT for the Penguin Readers edition.
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Wikipedia in English


Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER ? In a weedy lot on the outskirts of Memphis, two  boys watch a shiny Lincoln pull up to the  curb....

Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his younger brother were sharing a forbidden cigarette when a chance encounter with a suicidal lawyer left Mark knowing  a bloody and explosive secret: the whereabouts of  the most sought-after dead body in America.

Now Mark is caught between a legal system gone mad and a mob killer desperate to cover up his crime. And his only ally is a woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer for all of four years. Prosecutors are  willing to break all the rules to make Mark talk. The  mob will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. And  Reggie will do anything to protect her client??even take a last, desperate gamble that could win  Mark his freedom... or cost them both their  

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