He gave up the money. He gave up the power. Now all he has left is the law.
Michael Brock is billing the hours, making the money, rushing relentlessly to the top of Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm. One step away from partnership, Michael has it all. Then, in an instant, it all comes undone.
A homeless man takes nine lawyers hostage in the firm's plush offices. When it is all over, the man's blood is splattered on Michael's face--and suddenly Michael is willing to do the unthinkable. Rediscovering a conscience he lost long ago, Michael is leaving the big time for the streets where his attacker once lived--and where society's powerless need an advocate for justice.
But there's one break Michael can't make: from a secret that has floated up from the depths of Drake & Sweeney, from a confidential file that is now in Michael's hands, and from a conspiracy that has already taken lives. Now Michael's former partners are about to become his bitter enemies. Because to them, Michael Brock is the most dangerous man on the streets....
America's most popular author is arguably its most popular crusader as well, tilting his pen against myriad targets, including big law (The Firm, etc.), big tobacco (The Runaway Jury), big insurance (The Rainmaker) and now, in perhaps his sweetest, shortest novel, against anyone, big or little, who treats the homeless as less than human. The expected powerhouse opening involves the hostage-taking?by an armed, homeless man who calls himself Mister?of nine attorneys of a huge law firm headquartered in D.C. Among the nine is narrator Michael Brock, an antitrust lawyer who receives a faceful of blood when a police sniper blows away Mister's head. "I'm alive! I'm alive," Michael cries like Ebenezer Scrooge, but, like Scrooge, this greedy hotshot is ripe for a moral awakening. The next day, Michael visits the shabby offices of Mister's attorney, Mordecai Green, who explains that Mister and others had been illegally evicted from makeshift housing on orders from a real-estate development company represented by Michael's firm. Inspired by Green and shaken by his firm's complicity, Michael volunteers at a homeless shelter. When a family he meets there dies on the street, and turns out to have been among the evictees, Michael quits his job, goes to work for Green and, using as evidence a file he steals from the firm, aims to sue his former employer on behalf of the evictees. In turn, the firm places Michael in its crosshairs, pressuring him to give up the file through legal maneuvers, having him arrested and hints of darker means. The cat-and-mouse between Michael and the firm is vintage Grisham, intricately plotted, but the emphasis in this smoothly told, baldly manipulative tale is less on action and suspense, which are moderate, than on Michael's change of heart and moving exploration of the world of the homeless. Dickens would be well pleased, and so will Grisham's fans. 2.8 million first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . entertaining
Posted September 07, 2011 by Doug , Urania LouisianaThe plot has been given away by the previous reviews so I will not dwell. I have read several of Grisham's works and have enjoyed most. This one is well written, entertaining, and informative. I was slightly disappointed with the ending but not enough to give it less than five stars. This one will fall into my "impact " collection for I have thought about it's content for weeks now. Great entertaining read!
January 04, 1999
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Excerpt from The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
One The man with the rubber boots stepped into the elevator behind me, but I didn't see him at first. I smelled him though--the pungent odor of smoke and cheap wine and life on the street without soap. We were alone as we moved upward, and when I finally glanced over I saw the boots, black and dirty and much too large. A frayed and tattered trench coat fell to his knees. Under it, layers of foul clothing bunched around his midsection, so that he appeared stocky, almost fat. But it wasn't from being well fed; in the wintertime in D.C., the street people wear everything they own, or so it seems. He was black and aging--his beard and hair were half-gray and hadn't been washed or cut in years. He looked straight ahead through thick sunglasses, thoroughly ignoring me, and making me wonder for a second why, exactly, I was inspecting him. He didn't belong. It was not his building, not his elevator, not a place he could afford. The lawyers on all eight floors worked for my firm at hourly rates that still seemed obscene to me, even after seven years. Just another street bum in from the cold. Happened all the time in downtown Washington. But we had security guards to deal with the riffraff. We stopped at six, and I noticed for the first time that he had not pushed a button, had not selected a floor. He was following me. I made a quick exit, and as I stepped into the splendid marble foyer of Drake & Sweeney I glanced over my shoulder just long enough to see him standing in the elevator, looking at nothing, still ignoring me. Madam Devier, one of our very resilient receptionists, greeted me with her typical look of disdain. "Watch the elevator," I said. "Why?" "Street bum. You may want to call security." "Those people," she said in her affected French accent. "Get some disinfectant too." I walked away, wrestling my overcoat off my shoulders, forgetting the man with the rubber boots. I had nonstop meetings throughout the afternoon, important conferences with important people. I turned the corner and was about to say something to Polly, my secretary, when I heard the first shot. Madam Devier was standing behind her desk, petrified, staring into the barrel of an awfully long handgun held by our pal the street bum. Since I was the first one to come to her aid, he politely aimed it at me, and I too became rigid. "Don't shoot," I said, hands in the air. I'd seen enough movies to know precisely what to do. "Shut up," he mumbled, with a great deal of composure. There were voices in the hallway behind me. Someone yelled, "He's got a gun!" And then the voices disappeared into the background, growing fainter and fainter as my colleagues hit the back door. I could almost see them jumping out the windows. To my immediate left was a heavy wooden door that led to a large conference room, which at that moment happened to be filled with eight lawyers from our litigation section. Eight hard-nosed and fearless litigators who spent their hours chewing up people. The toughest was a scrappy little torpedo named Rafter, and as he yanked open the door saying "What the hell?" the barrel swung from me to him, and the man with the rubber boots had exactly what he wanted. "Put that gun down," Rafter ordered from the doorway, and a split second later another shot rang through the reception area, a shot that went into the ceiling somewhere well above Rafter's head and reduced him to a mere mortal. Turning the gun back to me, he nodded, and I complied, entering the conference room behind Rafter. The last thing I saw on the outside was Madam Devier shaking at her desk, terror-stricken, headset around her neck, high heels parked neatly next to her wastebasket. The man with the rubber boots slammed the door behind me, and slowly waved the