The Testament, John Grisham
At times the book bogs down in detail and depth, but it becomes a worthwhile read with its logical and justifiable conclusion.
In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions, a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives.
Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.
Enter the lawyers. Nate O’Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraced corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to find Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan’s family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate is crashing through the Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman – pursued by enemies and friends alike – holds a stunning surprise of her own.
At times, one has to plough on in this book. The detail is deep, the data deeper. One loses one’s way in the deepest jungles of Brazil and South America.
Grisham takes a leap of faith in writing this book. It is more of a travelogue as well as a sociological study of people living challenged lives. Impoverished, drug/alcohol addicted, depressed and extremely distressed with life, social status, economic status and employment. Grisham covers these many bases in a detailed way that will have you turning pages just to see how things might deteriorate even more.
The plot threads its way from a multi-billionaire committing suicide but leaving behind an estate worth billions of dollars. A legitimate daughter is designated as the heir and it is the rest of the dysfunctional family who dedicate their energies to fight the legitimate will.
The legitimate daughter is a religious missionary in the Brazilian jungle, dedicated to her mission of working with the tribal indigenous and absolutely uninterested in her inheritance. Grisham’s plot revolves around finding the missionary, trying to persuade her to accept the inheritance and the scheming and legal strategizing of the greedy, self-serving family and the lawyers who work for them.
An interesting read for many reasons. The jungle scenes make one both pity and envy the benefits of living a simple life, not centered around income and employment. Grisham pushes one into emotional opposition of family members who have been questionably cut out of family inheritance.
As usual, Grisham writers a polished and refined story with authenticity and fact based on his own trips to the Brazilian regions. His writing about addiction and its challenges and horrows is gritty and raw but irresistibly engaging.
A long story but one which will captivate and entertain many readers. I found the book to be a slog at times but the final outcome was justified and worth the effort.