John Grisham’s The Chamber is real as death and almost as irresistible.
In 1967, Sam Cayhall helped bomb the law office of a Mississippi civil rights activist. The lawyer’s two sons were killed in the blast.
Sam was tried for murder twice; both trials resulted in a hung jury. In 1979, he was tried a third time, convicted, and sentenced to death.
In 1990, Sam’s execution is weeks away when a young lawyer, Adam Hall, asks to work on the case.
When he was 16, Adam learned that he was Sam’s grandson. Adam’s father, Eddie Cayhill, had fled to California, changed the family’s name, and committed suicide.
Now Adam tries to keep his grandfather from the gas chamber, while he pieces together his family history.
Sam is not the easiest client to work with; Adam is inexperienced and cocky. As they count the days to the execution date, each gives up some of his pride.
However repellent they find Sam’s criminal past, readers will find it hard not to want to see him reprieved.
Grisham ends the story in the only way it could end, leaving readers to ponder the messes that people make of their lives and the impossibility of solving human problems by legal means.
The Chamber by John Grisham
Doubleday. ©1994. 486 p.
1994 bestseller #10; my grade: A+
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni