Review: The Summons by John Grisham

The Summons

Just-okay books are the hardest to review – I can’t muster up the anger or the excitement to talk about them, haha. The Summons is definitely not Grisham’s best work. It’s ridiculously slow-paced, and the plot and the characters seem half-hearted and distracted. This was a bus read though, so I might have had a lower opinion of it had I read it all in one go – but I ended up just thinking that it was an okay book.

Title: The Summons
Author: John Grisham
Publication Date: February 5, 2002
Category: (Adult Fiction) Suspense / Mystery / Legal Thriller


Ray Atlee, a law professor at the University of Virginia, is summoned home to Clanton, Mississippi by his sickly father to discuss the division of his properties with Ray’s younger brother, Forrest, a drug addict. When Ray arrives in the renowned Judge Atlee’s study, he found that they were one step too late and that the Judge had passed away in peace… but he also discovered a secret fortune that the Judge couldn’t have possibly obtained legally. However, someone else knows of the Judge’s stash, and Ray is forced to choose between the money or his life.


None of characters really interested me, although Grisham did try to expand Ray’s character quite a bit. Since the main focus was on Ray, the other characters were kind of left in the dark. There was a lot of dilly-dallying in this book, with Ray being hit on by his student or doing unnecessary things, and I have to assume that that was supposed to contribute in some way to Ray’s character (is he supposed to be good-looking? Etc.).

The suspense in the story was typical Grisham style and I did feel it, but too many details were left out about what Ray was trying to do or who was after him, so overall, there was a lack of direction or movement. Every time I think, “This is it, we’ll know the truth soon,” we’re left in the dark because apparently whoever’s after Ray and that money is too good at being sneaky.

There was potential to make this story into something more exciting, but the ending felt a bit lackluster given the premise. Maybe if the characters were more developed and played more significant roles in the book, the ending would have been more reasonable.


The Summons is meh. Don’t read it if you have better books on your hands.

7 thoughts on “Review: The Summons by John Grisham

    • Right? Sometimes I wonder why I still review them, but that leads to thoughts about why I review really good or really bad books too, so I end up just trying to pick up pros and cons like usual…

  1. haha, first, can you tell I’m catching up on like a MONTH of other people’s blog posts and book reviews!?

    Anyway, just had to say that I agree it’s SO HARD to review those middle-ground books. I much prefer books with a lot of personal emotion attached: YOU MUST READ or DO NOT READ AT ANY COST or even I WAS SO EXCITED AND THEN IT WAS TERRIBLE.

    • It’s okay, you’re still wayyy ahead of me, Sarah! 😛 and yes, I probably dislike middle-ground books more than the hated books (which is kind of paradoxical), but that’s life…

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