The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker

by John Grisham

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Overview

Grisham's sixth spellbinding novel of legal intrigue and corporate greed displays all of the intricate plotting, fast-paced action, humor, and suspense that have made him the most popular author of our time. In his first courtroom thriller since A Time To Kill, John Grisham tells the story of a young man barely out of law school who finds himself taking on one of the most powerful, corrupt, and ruthless companies in America — and exposing a complex, multibillion-dollar insurance scam. In hs final semester of law school Rudy Baylor is required to provide free legal advice to a group of senior citizens, and it is there that he meets his first "clients," Dot and Buddy Black. Their son, Donny Ray, is dying of leukemia, and their insurance company has flatly refused to pay for his medical treatments. While Rudy is at first skeptical, he soon realizes that the Blacks really have been shockingly mistreated by the huge company, and that he just may have stumbled upon one of the largest insurance frauds anyone's ever seen — and one of the most lucrative and important cases in the history of civil litigation. The problem is, Rudy's flat broke, has no job, hasn't even passed the bar, and is about to go head-to-head with one of the best defense attorneys — and powerful industries — in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785791652
Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date: 01/28/1996
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 598
Product dimensions: 3.36(w) x 7.34(h) x 1.58(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

JOHN GRISHAM is the author of Skipping Christmas, A Painted House, The Brethren, The Testament, The Street Lawyer, The Partner, The Runaway Jury, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and A Time to Kill.

Hometown:

Oxford, Mississippi, and Albemarle County, Virginia

Date of Birth:

February 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Education:

B.S., Mississippi State, 1977; J.D., University of Mississippi, 1981

Read an Excerpt

My decision to become a lawyer was irrevocably sealed when I realized my father hated the legal profession. I was a young teenager, clumsy, embarrassed by my awkwardness, frustrated with life, horrified of puberty, about to be shipped off to a military school by my father for insubordination. He was an ex-Marine who believed boys should live by the crack of the whip. I'd developed a quick tongue and an aversion to discipline, and his solution was simply to send me away. It was years before I forgave him.

He was also an industrial engineer who worked seventy hours a week for a company that made, among many other items, ladders. Because by their very nature ladders are dangerous devices, his company became a frequent target of lawsuits. And because he handled design, my father was the favorite choice to speak for the company in depositions and trials. I can't say that I blame him for hating lawyers, but I grew to admire them because they made his life so miserable. He'd spend eight hours haggling with them, then hit the martinis as soon as he walked in the door. No hellos. No hugs. No dinner. Just an hour or so of continuous bitching while he slugged down four martinis then passed out in his battered recliner. One trial lasted three weeks, and when it ended with a large verdict against the company my mother called a doctor and they hid him in a hospital for a month.

The company later went broke, and of course all blame was directed at the lawyers. Not once did I hear any talk that maybe a trace of mismanagement could in any way have contributed to the bankruptcy.

Liquor became his life, and he became depressed. He went years without a steady job,which really ticked me off because I was forced to wait tables and deliver pizza so I could claw my way through college. I think I spoke to him twice during the four years of my undergraduate studies. The day after I learned I had been accepted to law school, I proudly returned home with this great news. Mother told me later he stayed in bed for a week.

Two weeks after my triumphant visit, he was changing a lightbulb in the utility room when (I swear this is true) a ladder collapsed and he fell on his head. He lasted a year in a coma in a nursing home before someone mercifully pulled the plug.

Several days after the funeral, I suggested the possibility of a lawsuit, but Mother was just not up to it. Also, I've always suspected he was partially inebriated when he fell. And he was earning nothing, so under our tort system his life had little economic value.

My mother received a grand total of fifty thousand dollars in life insurance, and remarried badly. He's a simple sort, my stepfather, a retired postal clerk from Toledo, and they spend most of their time square dancing and traveling in a Winnebago. I keep my distance. Mother didn't offer me a dime of the money, said it was all she had to face the future with, and since I'd proven rather adept at living on nothing, she felt I didn't need any of it. I had a bright future earning money; she did not, she reasoned. I'm certain Hank, the new husband, was filling her ear full of financial advice. Our paths will cross again one day, mine and Hank's.

I will finish law school in May, a month from now, then I'll sit for the bar exam in July. I will not graduate with honors, though I'm somewhere in the top half of my class. The only smart thing I've done in three years of law school was to schedule the required and difficult courses early, so I could goof off in this, my last semester. My classes this spring are a joke: Sports Law, Art Law, Selected Readings from the Napoleonic Code and, my favorite, Legal Problems of the Elderly.

It is this last selection that has me sitting here in a rickety chair behind a flimsy folding table in a hot, damp, metal building filled with an odd assortment of seniors, as they like to be called. A hand-painted sign above the only visible door majestically labels the place as the Cypress Gardens Senior Citizens Building, but other than its name the place has not the slightest hint of flowers or greenery. The walls are drab and bare except for an ancient, fading photograph of Ronald Reagan in one corner between two sad little flagstone, the Stars and Stripes, the other, the state flag of Tennessee. The building is small, somber and cheerless, obviously built at the last minute with a few spare dollars of unexpected federal money. I doodle on a legal pad, afraid to look at the crowd inching forward in their folding chairs.

There must be fifty of them out there, an equal mixture of blacks and whites, average age of at least seventy-five, some blind, a dozen or so in wheelchairs, many wearing hearing aids. We were told they meet here each day at noon for a hot meal, a few songs, an occasional visit by a desperate political candidate. After a couple of hours of socializing, they will leave for home and count the hours until they can return here. Our professor said this was the highlight of their day.

We made the painful mistake of arriving in time for lunch. They sat the four of us in one corner along with our leader, Professor Smoot, and examined us closely as we picked at neoprene chicken and icy peas. My Jell-O was yellow, and this was noticed by a bearded old goat with the name Bosco scrawled on his Hello-My-Name-Is tag stuck above his dirty shirt pocket. Bosco mumbled something about yellow Jell-O, and I quickly offered it to him, along with my chicken, but Miss Birdie Birdsong corralled him and pushed him roughly back into his seat. Miss Birdsong is about eighty but very spry for her age, and she acts as mother, dictator and bouncer of this organization. She works the crowd like a veteran ward boss, hugging and patting, schmoozing with other little blue-haired ladies, laughing in a shrill voice and all the while keeping a wary eye on Bosco who undoubtedly is the bad boy of the bunch. She lectured him for admiring my Jell-O, but seconds later placed a full bowl of the yellow putty before his glowing eyes. He ate it with his stubby fingers.

An hour passed. Lunch proceeded as if these starving souls were feasting on seven courses with no hope of another meal. Their wobbly forks and spoons moved back and forth, up and down, in and out, as if laden with precious metals. Time was of absolutely no consequence. They yelled at each other when words stirred them. They dropped food on the floor until I couldn't bear to watch anymore. I even ate my Jell-O. Bosco, still covetous, watched my every move. Miss Birdie fluttered around the room, chirping about this and that.

Professor Smoot, an oafish egghead complete with crooked bow tie, bushy hair and red suspenders, sat with the stuffed satisfaction of a man who'd just finished a fine meal, and lovingly admired the scene before us. He's a kindly soul, in his early fifties, but with mannerisms much like Bosco and his friends, and for twenty years he's taught the kindly courses no one else wants to teach and few students want to take. Children's Rights, Law of the Disabled, Seminar on Domestic Violence, Problems of the Mentally Ill and, of course, Geezer Law, as this one is called outside his presence. He once scheduled a course to be called Rights of the Unborn Fetus, but it attracted a storm of controversy so Professor Smoot took a quick sabbatical.

He explained to us on the first day of class that the purpose of the course was to expose us to real people with real legal problems. It's his opinion that all students enter law school with a certain amount of idealism and desire to serve the public, but after three years of brutal competition we care for nothing but the right job with the right firm where we can make partner in seven years and earn big bucks. He's right about this.

The class is not a required one, and we started with eleven students. After a month of Smoot's boring lectures and constant exhortations to forsake money and work for free, we'd been whittled down to four. It's a worthless course, counts for only two hours, requires almost no work, and this is what attracted me to it. But, if there were more than a month left, I seriously doubt I could tough it out. At this point, I hate law school. And I have grave concerns about the practice of law.

This is my first confrontation with actual clients, and I'm terrified. Though the prospects sitting out there are aged and infirm, they are staring at me as if I possess great wisdom. I am, after all, almost a lawyer, and I wear a dark suit, and I have this legal pad in front of me on which I'm drawing squares and circles, and my face is fixed in an intelligent frown, so I must be capable of helping them. Seated next to me at our folding table is Booker Kane, a black guy who's my best friend in law school. He's as scared as I am. Before us on folded index cards are our written names in black felt—Booker Kane and Rudy Baylor. That's me. Next to Booker is the podium behind which Miss Birdie is screeching, and on the other side is another table with matching index cards proclaiming the presence of F. Franklin Donaldson the Fourth, a pompous ass who for three years now has been sticking initials and numerals before and after his name. Next to him is a real bitch, N. Elizabeth Erickson, quite a gal, who wears pinstripe suits, silk ties and an enormous chip on her shoulder. Many of us suspect she also wears a jockstrap.

Smoot is standing against the wall behind us. Miss Birdie is doing the announcements, hospital reports and obituaries. She's yelling into a microphone with a sound system that's working remarkably well. Four large speakers hang in the corners of the room, and her piercing voice booms around and crashes in from all directions. Hearing aids are slapped and taken out. For the moment, no one is asleep. Today there are three obituaries, and when Miss Birdie finally finishes I see a few tears in the audience. God, please don't let this happen to me. Please give me fifty more years of work and fun, then an instant death while I'm sleeping.To our left against a wall, the pianist comes to life and smacks sheets of music on the wooden grill in front of her. Miss Birdie fancies herself as some kind of political analyst, and just as she starts railing against a proposed increase in the sales tax, the pianist attacks the keys. "America the Beautiful," I think. With pure relish, she storms through a clanging rendition of the opening refrain, and the geezers grab their hymnals and wait for the first verse. Miss Birdie does not miss a beat. Now she's the choir director. She raises her hands, then claps them to get attention, then starts flopping them all over the place with the opening note of verse one. Those who are able slowly get to their feet.

The howling fades dramatically with the second verse. The words are not as familiar and most of these poor souls can't see past their noses, so the hymnals are useless. Bosco's mouth is suddenly closed but he's humming loudly at the ceiling.

The piano stops abruptly as the sheets fall from the grill and scatter onto the floor. End of song. They stare at the pianist who, bless her heart, is snatching at the air and fumbling around her feet where the music has gathered.

"Thank you!" Miss Birdie yells into the microphone as they suddenly fall back into their seats. "Thank you. Music is a wonderful thang. Let's give thanks to God for beautiful music."

"Amen!" Bosco roars.

"Amen," another relic repeats with a nod from the back row.

"Thank you," Miss Birdie says. She turns and smiles at Booker and me. We both lean forward on our elbows and once again look at the crowd. "Now," she says dramatically, "for the program today, we are so pleased to have Professor Smoot here again with some of his very bright and handsome students." She flops her baggy hands at us and smiles with her gray and yellow teeth at Smoot who has quietly made his way to her side. "Aren't they handsome?" she asks, waving at us. "As you know," Miss Birdie proceeds into the microphone, "Professor Smoot teaches law at Memphis State, that's where my youngest son studied, you know, but didn't graduate, and every year Professor Smoot visits us here with some of his students who'll listen to your legal problems and give advice that's always good, and always free, I might add." She turns and lays another sappy smile upon Smoot. "Professor Smoot, on behalf of our group, we say welcome back to Cypress Gardens. We thank you for your concern about the problems of senior citizens. Thank you. We love you."

She backs away from the podium and starts clapping her hands furiously and nodding eagerly at her comrades to do the same, but not a soul, not even Bosco, lifts a hand.

"He's a hit," Booker mumbles.

"At least he's loved," I mumble back. They've been sitting here now for ten minutes. It's just after lunch, and I notice a few heavy eyelids. They'll be snoring by the time Smoot finishes.

He steps to the podium, adjusts the mike, clears his throat and waits for Miss Birdie to take her seat on the front row. As she sits, she whispers angrily to a pale gentleman next to her, "You should've clapped!" He does not hear this."Thank you, Miss Birdie," Smoot squeaks. "Always nice to visit here at Cypress Gardens." His voice is sincere, and there's no doubt in my mind that Professor Howard L. Smoot indeed feels privileged to be here at this moment, in the center of this depressing building, before this sad little group of old folks, with the only four students who happen to remain in his class. Smoot lives for this.

He introduces us. I stand quickly with a short smile, then return to my seat and once again fix my face in an intelligent frown. Smoot talks about health care, and budget cuts, and living wills, and sales tax exemptions, and abused geezers, and co-insurance payments. They're dropping like flies out there. Social Security loopholes, pending legislation, nursing home regulations, estate planning, wonder drugs, he rambles on and on, just as he does in class. I yawn and feel drowsy myself. Bosco starts glancing at his watch every ten seconds.

Finally, Smoot gets to the wrap-up, thanks Miss Birdie and her crowd once again, promises to return year after year and takes a seat at the end of the table. Miss Birdie pats her hands together exactly twice, then gives up. No one else moves. Half of them are snoring.

Miss Birdie waves her arms at us, and says to her flock, "There they are. They're good and they're free."

Slowly and awkwardly, they advance upon us. Bosco is first in line, and it's obvious he's holding a grudge over the Jell-O because he glares at me and goes to the other end of the table and sits in a chair before the Honorable N. Elizabeth Erickson. Something tells me he will not be the last prospective client to go elsewhere for legal advice. An elderly black man selects Booker for his lawyer and they huddle across the table. I try not to listen. Something about an ex-wife and a divorce years ago that may or may not have been officially completed. Booker takes notes like a real lawyer and listens intently as if he knows exactly what to do.


From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

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The Rainmaker 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 201 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and i read it when i was only 11.
LillyParksONBooks More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had a little of everything, legal action as well as a romance. I had a hard time putting it down! The author's writing style is very entertaining and unique and I love his sense of humor in this story.
cafereadsblogspotcom More than 1 year ago
A David-and-Goliath story never gets old, even if a story about evil corporations does. This book, through its adept narration and quirky characters, tugs at readers' heartstrings regardless of political views. The plot may not be fresh, but the characters are quirky and the dialogue and narration are crisp. Why Grisham chose first person point of view and present tense is beyond me, but the writing in this book is witty, sarcastic and engaging. Also, unlike most other Grisham novels, The Rainmaker has a protagonist who is somewhat realistic and a cast of characters who could be your next-door neighbors. If you want to read a Grisham novel, then read The Rainmaker. This book is Grisham at his best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like books that keep my attention and just keeps me reading. Grisham's style of writing is excellent in keeping your interest. It's a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just as I said above, and with the added bonus that the proof-reading (when transferring into the e-book format)is much better than usual -- I didn't notice any of the normal "he" instead of "the", etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a spellbinding book from start to finish. A very enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story keeps you wanting more! My favorite book ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a way of keeping you wanting to find out more about Rudy Baylor and his many obstacles since law school. It is realistic, suspensful, and relatable.
mre-rtr More than 1 year ago
Fabulous plot, entertaining and everything i expect from this author!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Held my attention to the end.
bennyb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good story, worth a read.
ctmsdeha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿I was a young teenager, clumsy, embarrassed by my awkwardness, frustrated with life, horrified by puberty, about to be shipped off to a military school by my father for insubordination¿ Overtime, I¿d developed a quick tongue and an aversion to discipline¿¿Rudy Baylor, a graduate of the University of Memphis Law School, is trying to find his first job with a law firm in the Memphis area. While searching for a job he is also studying for the bar exam and bartending at a local Memphis bar.While providing free legal advice at a community center, he meets Mrs. Birdie Birdsong from whom he later rents an apartment. In return for cheap rent, he provides hours of backbreaking labor at her home. Rudy gets a job interview with J.Lyman ¿Bruiser¿ Stone, a strict but successful lawyer whose specialty is personal injury cases. Bruiser gives him a job as an associate. To earn the required $1,000 every month, he must find clients at the local hospital. Deck, another employee who has failed the bar exam 6 times, comes for the ride.Rudy ends up with just one case, a bad faith suit with a couple, Dot and Buddy Black. Their 22-year old son, Donny Ray, is dying of acute leukemia. A bone marrow transplant could have cured him, but their insurance company, Great Benefit, has denied payment for.Rudy meets and falls in love with a woman named Kelly Riker, who has been hospitalized by continuous beating from her husband. They get a chance to meet at the hospital and Rudy helps her up to her room.Drummond, the lawyer leading Great Benefit in the trial, uses Rudy¿s inexperience to his advantage. Rudy¿s determination and precision cross-examination fought back hard. The jury¿s verdict is¿If you want a book you can¿t put down, look no further. The Rainmaker is a detailed, well thought out book with well developed characters. When the characters were described by the author, I could clearly see them in my mind. While reading the dialogue, I felt like I was inside the story. I could feel Rudy¿s emotions and see inside his thoughts. The first person perspective of the book made it seem more real.This perfect mix of comedy and romance is not one to miss. If I were to describe this book with one sentence: This book is a page turner. I tore through this book and really enjoyed the balance of law, romance and comedy within the story. I did have some problems with the lack of action in the court scenes, since I am used to seeing more action when watching court-based TV shows. I also would have preferred a different ending, because I didn¿t agree with Rudy¿s decisions about his career at the end of the book.There were many times while reading the story that I felt I could relate to Rudy. For example, when he was trying to get a job, but kept getting turned down, I was reminded of how I¿m not really popular and have often been turned down when trying to make friends. I really like the plot of the story, even though I did have a little problem with the romantic part because I felt uncomfortable since I have never experienced true love.If I were to give this book a rating, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. The book is not perfect, but it was a nice read. If you ever see this book on a shelf somewhere, definitely consider picking it up. This book was great and I hope you think so too.
KathrynCSN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I think the story of this book isn't very new for me. It's about a young and inexperienced lawyer helps a poor person to get justice. The difference between this book and other similar stories is lawyer is not veteran, he is so jerky and enthusiasm, he is very nervous when he first time to appear in court, hesitated when he face to be asked settle out of court, he even asked to check legal provision when he on the court. He made the friends with his three clients which representative of vulnerable groups, the silent final, good person succeed and he win the lawsuit, respect and get his dream girl.On the other hand, in my opinion, it¿s a main social problem that the professional use their professional advantages to get illegal benefitsWhile their solve the problem, there also make the new problems, like he said every lawyer, at least once in every case, feels himself crossing a line he doesn¿t really mean to cross. It just happens. And if you cross it enough times, it disappears forever. And then you¿re nothing but another lawyer joke, just another shark in the dirty water.In short, I always like the story about lawyer, so it¿s worth to read for me.
LillyParks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fast-paced legal thriller!An amazing legal thriller. The story has a little bit of everything; from the law student who finds himself in the role of David versus Goliath, the comical character played by Deck, there are the complimentary thugs and the token beautiful woman. Grisham weaves the story together magically and it makes for a very exciting read, building into a crescendo at the end with an unexpected twist. While you read it all kinds of emotions penetrate your heart and soul.At one time you can be close to tears.At another time a smile can be curved on your face.In addition don't feel surprised if you catch yourself jittering with excitement over the final outcome of the facts being laid ahead of you.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a John Grisham book since I was in Junior High, but I enjoyed them then, so I was expecting a lot from The Rainmaker. On some level, it delivered, but it was a mixed bag. The problem is the book concentrates on the life of the main character Rudy Baylor much more than the legal drama side of the novel, in contrast to what I remember about Grisham's other books. The first two hundred pages drag on as the character deals with personal issues I found difficult to care about. When we finally see Rudy Baylor sue the villain of the story, insurance titan Great Benefit, the book changes completely. It is a page-turner and you can't put it down. There are some great moments, some of the best court room drama Grisham has written. But because of the lackluster beginning, it's hard to fully endorse this book.
rustbucket on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Third year law student, young Rudy Baylor has a moment to envision himself a Rainmaker-a shooting star- bringing his first wealthy client to the firm he'd been hired by. He would revel in the fact that his father would abhore his son's success as just another dirty lawyer. The rains come, but not as he expected. In fact, he finds himself deluged withbankruptcy, eviction, and losing his job before he'd even started. Although drowning himself, a mother implores him to save her son by gaining insurance coverage for surgery that would save his life. Realism of the job hits him hard, and the only solace he finds is in the precarious company of a beaten wife.
melorem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I've picked up a John Grisham book. This one is well developed and really maintains your interest. The main character, Rudy Baylor, is believable and likable. He recently graduates law school to discover his prospective job offer is no longer valid. He stumbles across the case of a lifetime. The lawsuit involves the insurance industry and a typical family that seems as if they have lost the battle with the insurance giant.
lchs.mrso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In John Grisham¿s The Rainmaker, Rudy Baylor, a recent graduate of the law school of Memphis State, finds himself in dire need of a job in a very competitive market. Through a class before he graduates, he is introduced to Dot Black, whose son is on his deathbed due to the fraud and delay tactics used by their insurance provider, Great Benefit. In his desperate search for a job, Rudy finds himself under the employ of ¿Bruiser¿ Stone. At Stone¿s sleazy firm, Rudy meets Deck Shifflet, a quirky man who has been through law school, but isn¿t a lawyer due to failing the bar six times. When the law begins to catch up to Stone (for the plethora of inconsequential illegal things he¿s done), Rudy hires Shifflet as his paralegal and opens his own firm. The duo tread water long enough for Rudy to go to court against a platoon of Great Benefit¿s lawyers, led by Leo F. Drummond. Both the law and the judge are on Rudy¿s side, so he succeeds in suing Great Benefit for $50.2 million. Days later, Great Benefit declares bankruptcy, allowing the company to avoid paying the settlement. Rudy, upset about winning the case but gaining nothing, resolves to become a teacher and live with Kelly Riker, a woman he fell in love with and helped to divorce her husband. The cover art of The Rainmaker is fairly minimalistic. It doesn¿t add much, but it certainly isn¿t an eyesore. I¿d recommend this book to young people aspiring to undertake careers related to the law, and to those interested in dramatized courtroom novels.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Classic Grisham at his best.
DoranCalgiano on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grisham is not always great--but I still buy and read all his books. The Rainmaker is far and away my favorite. Funny, good mystery, great characters.
karriethelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story. Always like to see the insurance companies take the hit they deserve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:)
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