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Publisher's Summary

In the corridors of Chicago's top law firm: 26-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case. Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison: Sam Cayhall is a former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances - except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson. While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes, to save his client. For between the 2 men is a chasm of shame, family lies and secrets - including one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life...or cost Adam his.
©1994 John Grisham; (P)1999 Random House, Inc., Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Ed
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 09-23-08

One of Grisham's best

I hesitated to purchase this because of the reviews that called it depressing. I liked much of Grisham's earlier works and this is one that I had yet to read. I'm glad I took a chance. The Chamber is a compelling story with excellent character development and just enough detail to make you familiar with its settings. And Michael Beck is just superb. I can't imagine the story being read any better. Grisham's expertise is best illustrated by the fact that Sam is a totally unlikable character who, by book's end, will capture the reader's empathy. The premise of the novel is somewhat of a stretch as are some of the events that take place. But all that's trumped by the masterful way that Grisham told this story. I haven't changed my opinion on capital punishment, but the novel made me think without detracting from its entertainment value. That is rare. I think this book will appeal to liberals, conservatives, capital punishment supporters and capital punishment opponents alike. It's good. Download and enjoy.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • George
  • Kennett Square, PA, USA
  • 02-22-04

Best of Grisham

Virtuoso narration of Grisham's best dialogue. The conversations carry the story. If ever a man earned the death sentence it is this man; the story shows how the sins of the father are visited on the generations. Yet, Grisham shows the value of confession, forgiveness and mercy.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Walk in his shower shoes

What did you love best about The Chamber?

I like any book that can help us to see into another person. Even a fictional person. Racism and hate and understanding and forgiveness and tolerance. There are some very harsh elements, there would have to be for the story to take place primarily on death row. I felt for the characters. I like a book that may help me see the other side of an argument in a new light.

What does Michael Beck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator was very good. I enjoyed his voice. I only once or twice thought his intonation was off and that is really nitpicking because he was good.

Any additional comments?

This was one of the first books that I got on my Audible acct. way back in 2002. It is now 2012. Ten years of listening and I thought I would listen to all of them over and write a quick review (finally) for each one. At the time that I got this book, I was also listening to Jonathan Kerlerman and Robert Ludlum. My tastes have changed, I do not like horrible killings and rapes that have a lot of details. I would rather have a light heart warming story. I have kids now and life is complicated enough. When I read I want to escape to a simple story with conflict that may be resolved. Though this book does not have a simple conflict, and the subject matter is hard, the story is still heart warming. There are harsh words and it is impossible to tell a story that includes racism with out using dialog that I would rather not hear but I'm glad I read the book 10 years ago, and I'm glad I read the book today.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Kudos to Mr. Grisham

The Chamber brings into question and beckon for the ultimate denouement of the death penalty.

A book with depth and innate worth, Mr. Grisham tells a riveting and poignant story in which Sam Cayhall, the main character, demonstrates the fatal result of the combination of family nurture and one's environment. Donnie, Sam's youngest brother, coming from the same ill-fated environment as Sam shows that by engaging with humanity, one can avoid the pains of alienation from society. If John Grisham tells us anything it is that albeit we live in a world where evil delights in justifying itself and where moral ambiguity surpasses moral verities, we are still accountable for the choices we make.

Michael Beck is an outstanding narrator. For me, this book was an emotional roller coaster that tested my compassion... a book that merits a place on the bookshelf.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Diane
  • Clio, MI, United States
  • 08-06-12

Death penalty issues are hard....

Would you listen to The Chamber again? Why?

No. I enjoyed it and glad I listened to it. But it'll stay with me a long time. I don't need a second time around. I don't believe in the death penalty in all cases, some I do. In this case I did not. I knew which way I was rooting and I felt I knew Sam by the time I was finished. He was a changed man and now I'm forever changed.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes it did. There were so many appeals and trials and the hope was for a stay of execution or clemency. Also, another character was involved, not mentioned much and the hope was that he would somehow be fleshed out.

What does Michael Beck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mmmm. He sounds just like Kevin Costner, if he read a book!! I've never seen a picture of Michael. But he does a wonderful job in pulling out all the characters in the story. The Chamber had a large number of characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes. Sam gave a very solemn confession to the preacher, I think his name was Randy. It was so heartfelt. Another was when he walked into the Chamber.....he was so very brave. He had disavowed his membership to the KKK and many other things. His main concern was that God would allow him into heaven.

Any additional comments?

Grisham rarely makes mistakes in my opinion. I loved this. It was a tad long but I still enjoyed it and it really didn't take much longer to read because I really needed to see Sam to the end.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Held my atention

I covered many miles while listening and don't remember most of them. Mr. Grisham is very good at discribing the surroundings, so much so I felt like I was there. Well worth the time.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Claire
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • 04-16-14

More than a courtroom drama.

The Chamber is a courtroom drama, a legal thriller, and more. It's a transgenerational Southern family drama and it's also the story of a young man entering into radical confrontation with his identity and values, and emerging with both intact.

Adam Hall is one year out of law school and works at a high-powered Chicago law firm. Since the tragic death of his father when Adam was seventeen he has also been the keeper of a family secret: Sam Cayhall, the infamous Ku Klux Klan bomber who has been on Mississippi's Death Row for over nine years, is his grandfather.

Adam gets himself assigned to the firm's pro bono department so that he can represent his grandfather for the final "gang plank" round of appeals, hoping to obtain a stay of execution for Sam. The book follows his work closely from court to court, and we become acquainted with the vast bureaucracy that supports capital punishment in the United States.

Grisham introduces us to the major and minor players in what is almost as formalized as Noh theater. We see what the noblest and basest aspects of human nature in the wardens, guards, and victims' family members, as well as in the bureaucrats behind the system of appellate courts, and we find kindness in surprising places.

The characters in The Chamber are multi-dimensional; they grow and develop over time. Some of them change; some don't. Almost without exception, they feel like real people. We believe them.

Michael Beck's narration is good. I can't speak to the accuracy of the regional accents he employs, but more importantly, his characterization never gets in the way of the characters. He never sinks into caricature, and it is always clear who is speaking.

I enjoyed The Chamber and I recommend it. It is not a happy, pleasant book, but it is a good one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not his best.

I was pretty disappointed. Maybe I'm just used to his books being so awesome. The story line was pretty bland.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Nonirritating Narration

Michael Beck is the best narrator I've heard in a long time. Very enjoyable.

J. Grisham, once again, seems to have run out of enthusiasm for his story towards the end. I enjoyed the first part.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Who are we to take a Life???

The irony about this book, I was so waiting for the predictable ending about a last minute call to save Sam Cayhall life even ten minutes to Sam's death, but was hit with the cold reality like everyone else in the story that Sam Cayhall was gonna died. This book is touching, emotional, and too realistic but maybe Sam really did deserve to died in the end BUT isn't the state a murderer now? After all, in the face of God, no sin is greater, but who are we to determine such. I was disappointed that the man in the shadows was not revealed to the world but I understand that Mr. Grisham wanted this to be more than an audio-book, he wanted real....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful