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The King of Torts [Anglais] [Poche]

John Grisham
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Extrait

THE SHOTS THAT FIRED the bullets that entered Pumpkin's head were heard by no less than eight people. Three instinctively closed their windows, checked their door locks, and withdrew to the safety, or at least the seclusion, of their small apartments. Two others, each with experience in such matters, ran from the vicinity as fast if not faster than the gunman himself. Another, the neighborhood recycling fanatic, was digging through some garbage in search of aluminum cans when he heard the sharp sounds of the daily skirmish, very nearby. He jumped behind a pile of cardboard boxes until the shelling stopped, then eased into the alley where he saw what was left of Pumpkin.

And two saw almost everything. They were sitting on plastic milk crates, at the corner of Georgia and Lamont in front of a liquor store, partially hidden by a parked car so that the gunman, who glanced around briefly before following Pumpkin into the alley, didn't see them. Both would tell the police that they saw the boy with the gun reach into his pocket and pull it out; they saw the gun for sure, a small black pistol. A second later they heard the shots, though they did not actually see Pumpkin take them in the head. Another second, and the boy with the gun darted from the alley and, for some reason, ran straight in their direction. He ran bent at the waist, like a scared dog, guilty as hell. He wore red-and-yellow basketball shoes that seemed five sizes too big and slapped the pavement as he made his getaway.

When he ran by them he was still holding the gun, probably a .38, and he flinched just for a instant when he saw them and realized they had seen too much. For one terrifying second, he seemed to raise the gun as if to eliminate the witnesses, both of whom managed to flip backward from their plastic milk crates and scramble off in a mad flurry of arms and legs. Then he was gone.

One of them opened the door to the liquor store and yelled for someone to call the police, there had been a shooting.

Thirty minutes later, the police received a call that a young man matching the description of the one who had wasted Pumpkin had been seen twice on Ninth Street carrying a gun in open view and acting stranger than most of the people on Ninth. He had tried to lure at least one person into an abandoned lot, but the intended victim had escaped and reported the incident.

The police found their man an hour later. His name was Tequila Watson, black male, age twenty, with the usual drug-related police record. No family to speak of. No address. The last place he'd been sleeping was a rehab unit on W Street. He'd managed to ditch the gun somewhere, and if he'd robbed Pumpkin then he'd also thrown away the cash or drugs or whatever the booty was. His pockets were clean, as were his eyes. The cops were certain Tequila was not under the influence of anything when he was arrested. A quick and rough interrogation took place on the street, then he was handcuffed and shoved into the rear seat of a D.C. police car.

They drove him back to Lamont Street, where they arranged an impromptu encounter with the two witnesses. Tequila was led into the alley where he'd left Pumpkin. "Ever been here before?" a cop asked.

Tequila said nothing, just gawked at the puddle of fresh blood on the dirty concrete. The two witnesses were eased into the alley, then led quietly to a spot near Tequila.

"That's him," both said at the same time.

"He's wearing the same clothes, same basketball shoes, everything but the gun."

"That's him."

"No doubt about it."

Tequila was shoved into the car once again and taken to jail. He was booked for murder and locked away with no immediate chance of bail. Whether through experience or just fear, Tequila never said a word to the cops as they pried and cajoled and even threatened. Nothing incriminating, nothing helpful. No indication of why he would murder Pumpkin. No clue as to their history, if one existed at all. A veteran detective made a brief note in the file that the killing appeared a bit more random than was customary.

No phone call was requested. No mention of a lawyer or a bail bondsman. Tequila seemed dazed but content to sit in a crowded cell and stare at the floor.

PUMPKIN HAD NO TRACEABLE father but his mother worked as a security guard in the basement of a large office building on New York Avenue. It took three hours for the police to determine her son's real name--Ram-n Pumphrey--to locate his address, and to find a neighbor willing to tell them if he had a mother.

Adelfa Pumphrey was sitting behind a desk just inside the basement entrance, supposedly watching a bank of monitors. She was a large thick woman in a tight khaki uniform, a gun on her waist, a look of complete disinterest on her face. The cops who approached her had done so a hundred times. They broke the news, then found her supervisor.

In a city where young people killed each other every day, the slaughter had thickened skins and hardened hearts, and every mother knew many others who'd lost their children. Each loss brought death a step closer, and every mother knew that any day could be the last. The mothers had watched the others survive the horror. As Adelfa Pumphrey sat at her desk with her face in her hands, she thought of her son and his lifeless body lying somewhere in the city at that moment, being inspected by strangers.

She swore revenge on whoever killed him.

She cursed his father for abandoning the child.

She cried for her baby.

And she knew she would survive. Somehow, she would survive.

ADELFA WENT TO COURT to watch the arraignment. The police told her the punk who'd killed her son was scheduled to make his first appearance, a quick and routine matter in which he would plead not guilty and ask for a lawyer. She was in the back row with her brother on one side and a neighbor on the other, her eyes leaking tears into a damp handkerchief. She wanted to see the boy. She also wanted to ask him why, but she knew she would never get the chance.

They herded the criminals through like cattle at an auction. All were black, all wore orange coveralls and handcuffs, all were young. Such waste.

In addition to his handcuffs, Tequila was adorned with wrist and ankle chains since his crime was especially violent, though he looked fairly harmless when he was shuffled into the courtroom with the next wave of offenders. He glanced around quickly at the crowd to see if he recognized anyone, to see if just maybe someone was out there for him. He was seated in a row of chairs, and for good measure one of the armed bailiffs leaned down and said, "That boy you killed. That's his mother back there in the blue dress."

With his head low, Tequila slowly turned and looked directly into the wet and puffy eyes of Pumpkin's mother, but only for a second. Adelfa stared at the skinny boy in the oversized coveralls and wondered where his mother was and how she'd raised him and if he had a father, and, most important, how and why his path had crossed that of her boy's. The two were about the same age as the rest of them, late teens or early twenties. The cops had told her that it appeared, at least initially, that drugs were not involved in the killing. But she knew better. Drugs were involved in every layer of street life. Adelfa knew it all too well. Pumpkin had used pot and crack and he'd been arrested once, for simple possession, but he had never been violent. The cops were saying it looked like a random killing. All street killings were random, her brother had said, but they all had a reason.

On one side of the courtroom was a table around which the authorities gathered. The cops whispered to the prosecutors, who flipped through files and reports and tried valiantly to keep the paperwork ahead of the criminals. On the other side was a table where the defense lawyers came and went as the assembly line sputtered along. Drug charges were rattled off by the Judge, an armed robbery, some vague sexual attack, more drugs, lots of parole violations. When their names were called, the defendants were led forward to the bench, where they stood in silence. Paperwork was shuffled, then they were hauled off again, back to jail.

"Tequila Watson," a bailiff announced.

He was helped to his feet by another bailiff. He stutter-stepped forward, chains rattling.

"Mr. Watson, you are charged with murder," the Judge announced loudly. "How old are you?"

"Twenty," Tequila said, looking down.

The murder charge had echoed through the courtroom and brought a temporary stillness. The other criminals in orange looked on with admiration. The lawyers and cops were curious.

"Can you afford a lawyer?"

"No."

"Didn't think so," the Judge mumbled and glanced at the defense table. The fertile fields of the D.C. Superior Court Criminal Division, Felony Branch, were worked on a daily basis by the Office of the Public Defender, the safety net for all indigent defendants. Seventy percent of the docket was handled by court-appointed counsel, and at any time there were usually half a dozen PDs milling around in cheap suits and battered loafers with files sticking out of their briefcases. At that precise moment, however, only one PD was present, the Honorable Clay Carter II, who had stopped by to check on two much lesser felonies, and now found himself all alone and wanting to bolt from the courtroom. He glanced to his right and to his left and realized that His Honor was looking at him. Where had all the other PDs gone?

A week earlier, Mr. Carter had finished a murder case, one that had lasted for almost three years and had finally been closed with his client being sent away to a prison from which he would never leave, at least not officially. Clay Carter was quite happy his client was now locked up, and he was relieved that he, at that moment, had no murder files on his desk.

That, evidently, was abou...

Revue de presse

“Rousing . . . Another pedal-to-the-metal crowd-pleaser.”—People

“Offers everything one expects from Grisham . . . delivers with a vengeance.”—The Seattle Times

“Satisfying . . . a lot of fun . . . When you finish it, you’re ready to dash on to the next Grisham.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“A thrill ride of twists and turns.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 480 pages
  • Editeur : Dell (16 décembre 2003)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0440241537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440241539
  • Dimensions du produit: 3 x 10,8 x 17,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 41.627 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Né en 1955, John Grisham a commencé sa carrière comme avocat dans une petite ville du Mississippi. Avec La Firme, parue en 1991, il a rencontré son premier grand succès de romancier. Depuis, il a vendu plus de soixante millions d'exemplaires dans le monde au travers de nombreux romans dont L'Affaire Pélican, Le Maître du jeu, L'Associé, La Loi du plus faible, Le Testament, L'Héritage, Le Dernier Juré, Le Clandestin, L'Accusé, Le Contrat, La Revanche, L'Infiltré et, plus récemment, Chroniques de Ford County, tous publiés chez Robert Laffont.

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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par Montana
Format:Poche
D'habitude John Grisham excelle dans le Mississippi avec des affaires judiciaires bien torturées. Cette fois-ci, il change encore de registre et situe l'action ailleurs. Le fond, sur le système de TORT law ou on peut faire comdamner une société pour avoir, par exemple, mis un médicament sur le marché qui s'est avéré bien plus dangeureux, voire fatal après des informations obtenues d'une manière pas tout à fait honnête et qui permet à l'avocat de très bien gagner sa vie sur le dos de ses clients.
Le système est ainsi fait et les avocats s'enrichissent à tour de bras. Est-il légal? Oui. Où est le sens de devoir envers ses clients? On montre une facette bien noire de ce système et la perversité des avocats.
Même si l'histoire est un peu prévisible et la fin un peu simpliste. On peut très bien le lire dans un avion ou un train ou sur la plage....c'est l'époque!
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 étoiles sur 5  706 commentaires
58 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The King Doesn't Get His Crown Back Just Yet. 5 février 2003
Par Sebastien Pharand - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
John Grisham began his writing career with a bang, publishing one great legal thriller after the next, a feat that brought him to the top of the publishing world very quickly. But in the last few years, his legal thrillers have been less than steller. Aside from his sweet, heartwarming A Painted House (which, ironically enough, was not a legal thriller), Grisham's novels have been on the boring side. Now, he returns with his yearly offering, a fun little novel called The King of Torts, a novel that brings him once step closer to regaining his title of King of the legal thriller.
In the book, we find a young public defendent named Clay, who is given the opportunity to earn 15 million dollars with just a few months's work. Soon enough, he is thrown into the world of mass litigation, where lawyers sue big corportations with thousands of claims. The millions start pouring in and Clay soon finds himself at the top of his game.
But what goes up must come down, a thing Clay does not seem to know. Halfway through the story, Clay realizes that he's in way over his head.
In Clay, Grisham creates a character you will both love and hate. His rise to success his fun to watch, but his downfall is much more interesting. It's the part in between that's problematic. Because, while Clay is on top, he becomes so obssessed with money and fame that he becomes a character you will despise. It's hard to like someone who's complaining about life when they own a yacht, a million dollar house, a penthouse in the south, and their own 45$ million jet. So when his downfall arrives, it's hard to feel sympathy for Clay.
The story is predictable, yet fun to read. Maybe the book would have been better had Clay been faced with harder, more problematic challenges and situations. As it is now, The King of Torts is a fund read that doesn't require much involvement from its readers. A good beach novel, but not much more than that.
32 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Grisham is back in form with a fast paced, complex thriller 18 février 2003
Par Silver Springer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Fans of John Grisham's earlier legal works should be pleased with this thriller set in the complex, greedy world of tort lawyers. You can't help but like and hate the main character, lawyer J. Clay Carter II as he changes from a low paid but dedicated attorney in the D.C. Public Defender's office to a high powered, freewheeling and greedy corporate lawyer. When the chance to cash in on 6 settlements for a new drug gone wrong lands in Carter's lap, he is lured into the jet-setting life of other wealthy attorneys looking for quick settlements. Even though you may not approve of their motives, the tort world is fascinating and a great story. As Carter buys into the lifestyle with a personal jet and home in the Carribbean yet seems unconcerned about settlements for his clients, you want to shake him. But those who rise quickly can fall the same way and the novel ends in a satisfying way.
Lots of subplots, interesting characters and fast paced action keeps you on pins and needles until the end of the story. I think this is a four star book, not quite at the level of his earlier works (The Firm and Pelican Brief) , but a huge improvement over later works such as The Summons and The Brethren.
24 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Modern Morality Tale 5 février 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
It's always hard to read a book that has a lead character with few redeeming qualities, and the King of Torts is no exception. While the story is fascinating in its details about tort law, class action suits, and class action lawyers, who come out rather like comic book characters, it is not particularly gripping, as Clay Carter's roller coaster ride is completely predictable right to the end. This is a modern morality tale about money, greed, and power, and a very average one at that. Don't skip reading it, but don't expect a lot either.
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The King is Back 23 février 2003
Par Randyll McDermott - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Lately, John Grisham's books have been pretty bad. Skipping Christmas, A Painted House, The Brethren and The Summons were very forgettable. The King of Torts is different. It is a rags to riches story in which you can't help cheering for the protagonist, Clay Carter. As the novel begins Clay is stuck in a dead-end job as a public defender. In a hard to believe plot leap, Clay is contacted by a "fireman,"(a person hired by big corporations implicated in lawsuits to get a settlement) Max Pace who gives him the opportunity to make millions of dollars. Clay gleefully accepts this opportunity and is soon a hotshot multimillionaire with a private jet, house on St. Barts, Porsche and bimbo girlfriend. But of course, this couldn't last... The King of Torts seems to me as an illustration of the contempt in which Grisham holds the profession of mass tort lawyers. It's a quick, great read that will be sure to please fans of Grisham's and also those just looking for a thrilling read.
23 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Closer to Grisham. 25 février 2003
Par R. Shaff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Like several reviewers, I have been less than enthralled with Grisham's latest legal thrillers. His last thriller, THE SUMMONS, in my opinion, was a yawner. However, after a brief sojourn into classic fiction with A PAINTED HOUSE and SKIPPING CHRISTMAS (which I highly recommend), Grisham has clawed his way back into the arena that made him the King of Legal Thrillers. THE KING OF TORTS is classic Grisham, in the form of A TIME TO KILL, THE FIRM, and my all-time favorite, THE PELICAN BRIEF. While KING OF TORTS still doesn't quite measure up, it is incredibly good.
What makes THE KING OF TORTS so good is the conceptual elements fans have grown to love about Grisham's thirllers: an underdog young attorney, a mysterious and clandestine protagonist, greasy "ambulance-chasing" attorneys and unscrupulous corporations. In the end, as always, it's all about the dollar.
Our "hero" in this thriller is J. Clay Carter II, a low-paid public defender in Washington, D.C. Clay has a well-to-do fiancée, Rebecca Van Horn who, along with her pugnacious mother and father continually nettle Clay to take a more lucrative job. His future in-laws are everything Clay despises. When he wontonly rejects Mr. Van Horn's offer of a corporate position making more than twice his PD pay, Rebecca dumps him for an geeky Ivy Leaguer.
Concurrent with his personal life heading south, Clay has just been ambushed into handling the defense of Tequila Watson, a young black man who shot a friend named "Pumpkin" (lively names). Although totally unmoved, Clay is intrigued as to why Tequila can't remember killing Pumpkin. It's as though his mind has been washed away...with drugs, Clay suspects. After issuing subpoenas for all the medical files from the street-tough drug rehabilitation center where Tequila was being treated, Clay gets the call of his young life. As Grisham describes him, "the man in black." Clay meets the man in black, Max Pace, an ex-lawyer cum "fireman," hired to solve problems on behalf of a variety of unnamed companies. His current "project" is on behalf of a major pharmaceutical company, which has just pulled the plug on a bad drug...a drug that has the side effects of making ex-addicts kill for no apparent reason. Pace's job for Clay? Offer the victims' families large settlements NOT to pursue any potential investigation or legal action. For this, Clay will receive a cool $15 million. Clay takes an extremely short moment and decides that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Why, he would be foolish to turn it down, wouldn't he?
Sure to his word, Max makes Clay a millionaire with a few short weeks of work. And, to add pleasure to ecstasy, Max has another, much larger "deal" for Clay. This deal involves another bad drug but this time, Clay gets to play the mass tort game. This, all from "tips" provided by the mysterious Max Pace. As Clay's new lawsuit takes form, he lands thousands of class-action suits and is dubbed by the major media "The King of Torts." As the pitiful pharmaceutical company decides to settle with Clay and his newly minted legal bretheren, Clay is two-for-two, only this time, his take isn't $15 million; it's $100 million! Like taking candy from a baby. Clay believes he's this good and here comes the element creating problems for most, greed.
As Clay acquires a yacht (for his father), a private plane, an island retreat and a trophy girlfriend, he burns through his new found wealth at an astonishing pace both for pleasure and in funding his next legal bonanza. But, like Mitch McDeere, Grisham's protagonist in THE FIRM, Clay soon learns that his newly acquired riches come with a price he can't afford to pay.
Grisham's glimpse into the world of mass tort attorneys is poignant and timely. How many commercials do we see on television from those soliciting our aches, pains, and more frighteningly, our health. The multi-million dollar advertising campaigns they use to attract clients and the huge sums they extract from big corporations are astonishing albeit fetid.
Unlike many of the Hollywood stories, not all mass tort actions have "happy" endings. In some cases, attornys undeservingly obtain riches simply because the defendant corporation believes it can spend less to settle than to litigate. At some surreal level, this crack in our legal system is one that is uncomfortable at best; horrifying at worst. In many cases, good, well-intentioned companies are forced into bankruptcy and the victims, who suffered the most, are left with little after attorney's fees.
Grisham sets a good pace for this storyline and develops the characters quite well. The only problem I saw with THE KING OF TORTS is, having set up strong characters and revealed the conspiracy, Grisham spins the story to a condensed close. While this glimpse of the Grisham of old is encouraging, the sprial down to climax was a return to the recent past. This doesn't spoil the book, as a whole, but it does bring the awestruck level down to solid.
A good book, a fun read. I hope this is only peek into Grisham's future direction. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see another PELICAN BRIEF in the making.
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