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The Testament
Cover of The Testament
The Testament
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions—a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives.
Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.
Enter the lawyers. Nate O’Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraced corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to find Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan’s family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate goes crashing through the Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman—pursued by enemies and friends alike—holds a stunning surprise of her own.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions—a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives.
Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.
Enter the lawyers. Nate O’Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraced corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to find Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan’s family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate goes crashing through the Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman—pursued by enemies and friends alike—holds a stunning surprise of her own.

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Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    540
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3


Excerpts-
  • From the book I sit and stare through the tinted glass walls. On a clear day, I can see the top of the Washington Monument six miles away, but not today. Today is raw and cold, windy and overcast, not a bad day to die. The wind blows the last of the leaves from their branches and scatters them through the parking lot below.

    Why I am worried about the pain? What's wrong with a little suffering? I've caused more misery than any ten people.

    I push a button and Snead appears. He bows and pushes my wheelchair through the door of my apartment, into the marble foyer, down the marble hall, through another door. We're getting closer, but I feel no anxiety.

    I've kept the shrinks waiting for over two hours.

    We pass my office and I nod at Nicolette, my latest secretary, a darling young thing I'm quite fond of. Given some time, she might become number four.

    But there is no time. Only minutes.

    A mob is waiting—packs of lawyers and some psychiatrists who'll determine if I'm in my right mind. They are crowded around a long table in my conference room, and when I enter, their conversation stops immediately and everybody stares. Snead situates me on one side of the table, next to my lawyer, Stafford.

    There are cameras pointing in all directions, and the technicians scramble to get them focused. Every whisper, every move, every breath will be recorded because a fortune is at stake.

    The last will I signed gave little to my children. Josh Stafford prepared it, as always. I shredded it this morning.

    I'm sitting here to prove to the world that I am of sufficient mental capacity to make a new will. Once it is proved, the disposition of my assets cannot be questioned.

    Directly across from me are three shrinks—one hired by each family. On folded index cards before them someone has printed their names—Dr. Zadel, Dr. Flowe, Dr. Theishen. I study their eyes and faces. Since I am supposed to appear sane, I must make eye contact.

    They expect me to be somewhat loony, but I'm about to eat them for lunch.

    Stafford will run the show. When everyone is settled and the cameras are ready, he says, "My name is Josh Stafford, and I'm the attorney for Mr. Troy Phelan, seated here to my right."

    I take on the shrinks, one at a time, eye to eye, glare to glare, until each blinks or looks away. All three wear dark suits. Zadel and Flowe have scraggly beards. Theishen has a bow tie and looks no more than thirty. The families were given the right to hire anyone they wanted.

    Stafford is talking. "The purpose of this meeting is to have Mr. Phelan examined by a panel of psychiatrists to determine his testamentary capacity. Assuming the panel finds him to be of sound mind, then he intends to sign a will which will dispose of his assets upon his death."

    Stafford taps his pencil on a one-inch-thick will lying before us. I'm sure the cameras zoom in for a close-up, and I'm sure the very sight of the document sends shivers up and down the spines of my children and their mothers scattered throughout my building.

    They haven't seen the will, nor do they have the right to. A will is a private document revealed only after death. The heirs can only speculate as to what it might contain. My heirs have received hints, little lies I've carefully planted.

    They've been led to believe that the bulk of my estate will somehow be divided fairly among the children, with generous gifts to the ex-wives. They know this; they can feel it. They've been praying fervently for this for weeks, even months. This is life and death for them because they're all in debt. The will lying before me is supposed to make them rich and stop the...
About the Author-
  • John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge's List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.
     
    Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.
     
    When he's not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.
     
    John lives on a farm in central Virginia.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 1, 1999
    Grisham, with his master-storyteller legal thriller form, always plays well on audio. His latest begins with a coyly playful opening scene. Elderly billionaire industrialist Troy Phelan is holding court from his corporate office headquarters in Virginia. He has just rewritten his will to ensure that his rogue heirs--six children and three ex-wives--will be cut off. Instead, he gives the bulk of his fortune to an illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, a religious missionary living among native peoples in the Brazilian jungle. This done, Phelan hurls himself out the office window, killing himself, leaving his heirs and their $500-an-hour lawyers to fight over his money. From here, the plot turns schmaltzy, as Nate O'Riley, an alcoholic attorney with a heart of gold, is sent to Brazil to seek out Rachel, where he summarily falls in love with her and finds spiritual redemption. Reader Leyva, a Shakespearean actor, is finely tuned as a professional narrator, making the book sound like a movie screenplay waiting to happen. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover. Also available unabridged and on CD.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 1, 1999
    A traditional gangbuster Grisham opening--in which an aged billionaire outfoxes his greedy heirs by signing a bombshell will, then jumps to his death--gives little clue how this seductive tale will develop. The novel also features the usual attorney hero and legal action, but Grisham confounds expectations by sweeping readers into adventure in the Brazilian wetlands and, more urgently, into a man's search for spiritual renewal. Nate O'Riley, 48, is a drunk. He's also a top D.C. attorney who, winding up his fourth rehab stint in 10 years, is asked by his firm to find one Rachel Lane. The illegitimate daughter to whom the firm's client, tycoon Troy Phelan, has left his entire $11 billion fortune, Rachel is a missionary-physician tending Indians somewhere in Brazil's Pantanal region. Nate's experiences there prove nightmarish, including fierce storms, a plane crash, dangerous animals, hunger and, finally, dengue fever, which nearly kills him. But as Grisham crosscuts from Brazil to D.C. and the sleazy machinations of Phelan's other children and their lawyers to negate Phelan's will, readers will wonder which is the real jungle; never has Grisham revealed so nakedly his contempt for the legal profession. What Grisham holds dear is made clear in his unforgettable portrait of Rachel, whose serenity and integrity stun Nate, while inspiring him to forsake forever his lust for booze, power and money and to turn toward God. The message (which isn't entirely new to Grisham; see The Street Lawyer) and the storytelling that conveys it aren't subtle, but Grisham's smart use of the suspense novel to explore questions of being and faith puts him squarely in the footsteps of Dickens and Graham Greene. Sincere, exciting and tinged with wonder, this novel is going to sell like an angel, and deservedly so. Agent, David Gernert. 2.8 million first printing.

  • USA Today

    "An entertaining page-turner...his best novel in years."

  • Newsweek "A compulsory page-turner."
  • The New York Times Book Review "Entertaining."
  • Chicago Tribune "Absorbing...the pages fly by."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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The Testament
A Novel
John Grisham
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