Gresham King of Torts – Houston, Mo. Attorney Book Review

I’d say I’m a book collector, but maybe a book hoarder would be more accurate. I picked up John Gresham’s The King of Torts (2003) for $1 at the Houston, Mo. Library. They’ve always got the front entryway piled high with books for sale. I don’t typically get my “light, fun reading” from the latest, greatest New York Times best seller. Something 15 years old is fine.

True to Gresham Form, The King of Torts is a fast, easy, exciting read with characters about as shallow as cardboard cutouts. Clay Carter emerges on the scene, a burned out public defender suddenly given a bizarre, completely unbelievable opportunity making millions as a mass tort attorney.

I don’t do mass torts (massive class action lawsuits, such as, in this book, against pharmaceutical companies that have marketed harmful products), so I don’t know whether there’s an ounce, a pound, or maybe a fraction of an ounce in how Gresham lampoons the greedy, unethical, materialistic, and wasteful mass tort segment of the law profession. In any event, the book portrays Clay as sucked into the vortex of unethical, money grabbing mass torts, rising to fame and just as quickly crashing and burning.

And of course, when he crashes and burns, he gets back with the girl he’s always loved, marries, and moves on with life presumably to “live happily ever after.” Of course, as a ready, you find yourself neither interested in Clay’s past nor his future. You had fun with the colorful cardboard figures as they performed across the pages for you, and that’s about it.

Here are some take away messages if you feel like pausing long enough to apply a thriller’s take away messages to your life: first, don’t sell your soul for wealth and power; second, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true, and there’s some nefarious, harmful, ugly underbelly to the situation that will get you in the end; and third, even if you succeeded (with all those disgusting, wealthy, slovenly folk who didn’t crash and burn) would you really like to be one of them anyway?

king of torts

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