Fiction: Using the law to make money
Although John Grisham is a good storey-teller, occasionally he comes out with novels you can’t but get your teeth into, keeping you on the edge of your seat from the beginning of the book, half-way through, right till the end.
And so it is with The King of Torts. Although, it’s a bit dated now, the novel has the making of a great buster with the main character, a humdrum lawyer in a dead end job, suddenly receiving the opportunity of a lifetime in making it big and rich through a shady-deals man but who remains in the background.
You might say, here we go again, the usual stuff from rags to riches rigamoarole. But the King of Torts is about legal manipulation and crookedness. The way to get millions and millions of dollars is to file lawsuits against big companies seemingly for the poor man-in-the-street but with the lawyers getting the lion’s share.
To show how good he is, the main character, also realizing, the rest of the staff he works with are also in low paid jobs, takes them with him in the new plush set up, from the start raising an ethical question. No, it is not quite laundry money, but a perfectly legit organization, that at first seems a frontline for the beginning of other shady deal, not quite illegal but certainly twisting the law for the love of money and much cash to be handed out in going after corporations.
Maybe Grisham here would be criticized for the usual lawyer greed that goes into his novels, but the man does seen to outdo himself as he write about corrupt lawyers. The King of Torts is really no different for wrapped around his set up is a community of lawyers or a fraternity making a bundle on tort cases. He is accepted into the fraternity through making it big in his first lawsuit.
The author weaves a good tale as the book is all action, keeping you to flick the pages as fiction comes alive on paper with plenty of business, politics and journalism getting into the narrative. There is a large degree of cynicism as the money starts rolling in for there is a desire to make more and more with the lawyer and his team making up cases as they go along.
With richness comes the beautiful women, upscale homes, top cars and of course the airplanes to jet set the lawyers from one part of the country into another. There is a much change in attitude, becoming much more careless and self-centered and willingness to indulge in actions people wouldn’t usually do.
But the high life become quickly short-lived. It is when his fingers start getting itchier for the money he gets into a chain of events that leads to his downfall, in fact escaping with the tether of his neck. In the end the police go after him, the fraternity washes its hands of him and he gets badly beaten up!
This is about the jest of it, of course there is a lot more detail, as the narrative goes on with excitement reaches different pitches and tones.