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The Rainmaker

1995 novel by John Grisham

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Three stories for the price of one

  • Jan 5, 2010
  • by
Methinks that John Grisham has a mellower side to his writing than we've seen thus far.

Certainly "The Rainmaker", rather than being the legal thriller that one might have expected on the basis of his previous novels, is more of a gentle bittersweet general fiction novel comprised of three concurrent sub-plots that take place primarily in a legal setting.

In the first story, (of course, all three are intertwined to a certain extent and bump into one another, although each of the three would serve as a fine short story or novella on its own), Rudy Baylor graduates from law school with the hopeful vision of a young man destined for a rising career in a mainstream firm well known in the field of corporate law. When an unexpected takeover leaves him jobless and facing personal bankruptcy, he is forced by unexpected circumstances into the arms of his first client. A pleansant but very lonely (and surprisingly wealthy) elderly lady offers him rental accommodation at a price he couldn't possibly refuse in exchange for a review of her will.

In the second (and central) plot of the novel, Baylor unexpectedly becomes the attorney of record in a major lawsuit alleging fraud against a mega-rich insurance company that pads its profits by routinely rejecting legitimate insurance claims comfortable in the proven belief that only a small statistical percentage of those claims denied will actually be taken to court. His client is a 22 year old man, dying of leukemia. He can't afford the cost of a bone marrow transplant because his claim under the insurance policy he bought many years earlier has been rejected. The stakes are huge with a $10 million judgment hanging in the balance.

In the third and final story, and certainly the most poignant of the three, Baylor meets a young woman in the hospital who has been severely beaten by her husband. As his relationship progresses from legal representative to something much deeper and much more important, Baylor begins to question his future, his objectivity and even his commitment to the entire field of law.

"The Rainmaker" is entertaining, well written fiction that certainly speaks to Grisham's ability as a well-rounded writer who can create believable stories, populated by a strong cast of warm characters with complexity and depth, that are far richer than pure suspense.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

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review by . August 04, 2010
In my headline, I described this as one of Grisham's most engaging works.  This is a big statement for me, because I can be a Grisham fanatic at times.  I've just about read every single one of his books.   I think the character development is really what gripped me in the Rainmaker.  Some of his works will have incredible stories that can leave you wanting the characters to have more of an identity.  Not here.  The Rainmaker has dozens of characters, …
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Paul Weiss ()
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   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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