By
March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

by John Grisham

The publishing juggernaut that is John Grisham brings us this, his 10th legal thriller in 10 years. With some 90 million copies of his books in print, it goes without saying that Grisham, 44, is a populist storyteller of the highest order. The question is: How long can the guy keep it up?

Judging from his latest, not forever. The Testament tells the whimsical story of an old and batty business tycoon, his six greedy heirs and the crew of lawyers eager to carve up his $11 billion estate—an irresistible premise that Grisham, as usual, brings to life with engagingly crooked characters and juicy legal twists. But The Testament lacks the tautness and intrigue of earlier bestsellers like The Firm and The Rainmaker, and it has no likable protagonist readers can root for.

It may be that Grisham is simply bored with the genre he helped create; indeed, most of The Testament describes the allegorical journey of a disillusioned lawyer into the dark Brazilian wetlands, where he must find a missing heir and come to grips with his wasted life. It’s an adventurous departure for Grisham that—while muddying his latest novel—promises more satisfying work should he ever abandon the courtroom altogether. (Doubleday, $27.95)

Bottom Line: Literary legal eagle shows some wear and tear

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