The Chamber – John Grisham (Review)


 (1996, 676 pages)

The Chamber - John GrishamChamber, a narrow octagonal shaped room, eight feet by fifteen wide with a chair in the middle added with a gas tube in the bottom, part of square red-brick building attached to the southwest corner of Maximum Security Unit with two white metals doors without windows.

That chamber room was waiting for prisoner who had sentenced to death, a capital punishment. And one of them was a white man; Sam Cayhall, a racist old man, a father and grandfather, Ku Klux Klan member.

Sam Cayhal was a brilliant, bright, and cold hearted man that could learn something fast, but being born and grown up in a Ku Klux Klan member family in generations and had been echoed by what the clan called as Civil Right Movement led him to the place where he had been at the age of seventy. Committed to plant a bomb and caused death of Marvin Kramer’s twin, then Kramer who quite fortunate survived the bomb with his amputated leg, a Jewish Lawyer whose name had been on a top list of KKK, then committed a suicide. This was how his death penalty started to drew too much attention; there were Kramer family who craved revenge, civilian who longed for what they called justice, mass media who thirsted for the most consumed article, and an ambitious politician who needed publicity of their justice sense by putting a murder in to a death penalty. In the other hand, the Ku Kluk Klan thought Cayhall was their hero, the man who had been stood for their movement, and in the same refused line, but in different moral issue, there were religious people who believed that life was in God’s hands, so was revenge, it was not right for the government to kill a killer. There were even writers wanted for his story. It was too crowded. It was too publicized.

Triggered by strong moral conviction against the death penalty, Adam Hall, a bright and briliant young lawyer from a top list Law Firm at Chicago, Kravitz and Bane, offered himself as Sam Cayhal pro bono case lawyer. That wasn’t his only reason for taking the case. Been different with the other lawyers who needed publicity in further. He yearned more than that. He needed to know how did Cayhal trapped in KKK black circle. He needed to know how was his feeling when he joined force with the Klan movement; killing, lynching, burning, bombing, and the other ways of murder. How much people he had killed? Why was it easy for him to take one life? Had it ever been crossed in his mind about stopping or living a normal life? Was he happy with the way he lived? How about his wife and child? Were they happy? There were so many unanswered questions left on his mind. He needed Sam to answer the whole questions. It was all about Sam’s past, but he needed to know Sam’s past, just by that he could have known his past too, the past that actually he never had because his Father Eddie Cayhall had buried it all when he run away from his father, Sam Cayhall’s house.

past is past

This book has made me think deeply about death penalty. As how Adam believe it was not right for government to kill a killer, it came to my mind, how bad actually a killer to be killed by people who stand in the name of justice and law. In the other hand, I hate the reasons behind Sam Cayhall and the Klan killing parade. It’s beyond my imagination. It doesn’t make any sense.

In further reading, it brought me to a mixed feeling. It was twisting. Adam persistence to get to know about his past, but Sam thought nothing, he didn’t have much time to talk about past and all he think about was his death penalty.

The Chamber 1

Too much emotion included in this book. At their first meeting conversation, I found it funny in Adam case and annoying in Sam case. The conversation between Adam and his Aunty, Lee Cayhall Booth made me depressed. How his aunty had been fighting her depression actually depressed me. I feel sorry about the way she had been living her life; been born and raised in such family and how she had to walk her marriage, it’s kind of frustrating. The other times, I was deeply moved by how Sam finally recognized whom Adam was.

As the story was developed, I got the warmer feeling from Sam.  How he slowly had realized how bad the way he had been living by seeing how his grandson had been living.

Within four weeks left for two strong main characters to win over the death penalty, I’m really amazed how one of my favourite authors developed the story and characters. The problem that lies within, the development of each character, the emotional and unbearable conversations, the story background, theme, plot, and development are completely twisted my mind and emotion. In words, I’m satisfied with this book, the best of John Grisham for me so far.

The Chamber 2


17 thoughts on “The Chamber – John Grisham (Review)

  1. Nicely done. This is one of my favorite Grisham’s too. The subject matter – death penalty, forgiveness, justice – is heavy. If you’re not aware, another wonderful book about this subject is Dead Man Walking – it gives a fair (and real) look at both sides. Will really make you think!

    1. thank you moore,
      actually i haven’t read John Grisham’s book that much. i have read 6 books so far. but i love his books. yes, that a heavy topic.
      Dead Man walking? whose book it is? i noted that tittle. thank you for kindly giving me information.

  2. So sorry for the delayed reply – it got lost somehow! Dead Man Walking is written by Helen Prejean – the nun who counseled a death row inmate – true story. Very good read.

  3. After three days and over 30 hours, I just finished John Grisham’s 676-paged bestseller, The Chamber, and I’ve completely lost any form of appetite for tonight, tomorrow and maybe Wednesday.

    Sam was bold, an incurable racist, brilliant and an asshole. I hate Nugent. He deserves a painful death. Adam was too young for the pressure, so I’ll excuse his selfishness in pursuing family history over a reprieve. But he’s smart, I admit.

    There was so much optimism (I was so sure of a reprieve. So sure!), but John Grisham already set out to spoil my mood.

    I’m a big fan of Grisham, and The Chambers has just fortified my loyalty.

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