#20. The Testament

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Nate fled the city. He went west through Virginia, then south through the Shenandoah Valley. His mind was numb from nine days of hardball probing into the intimate lives of others. At some undefined point in his life, pushed by his work and his addictions, he had lost his decency and shame. He had learned to lie, cheat, deceive, hide, badger, and attack innocent witnesses without the slightest twinge of guilt.

But in the quiet of his car and the darkness of the night, Nate was ashamed. He had pity for the Phelan children. He felt sorry for Snead, a sad little man just trying to survive. He wished he hadn't attacked the new experts with such vigor.

His shame was back, and Nate was pleased. He was proud of himself for feeling so ashamed. He was human after all.

Author: John Grisham

Synopsis: Old and ill, with his spoiled and debauched heirs circling, Troy Phelan signs a holographic will and jumps off a balcony to his death. The will leaves his eleven-billion-dollar estate to a daughter no one knew he had, a missionary to the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

Troy's lawyer needs someone to hunt through the Pantanal jungles for the missionary, so he sends the person he can most spare: alcoholic Nate O'Riley, just coming out of rehab. Nate's future, as well as that of Troy's other children, is in the missionary's hands.

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I've read several Grisham books and seen several of the movies--and had multiple bad dreams about The Pelican Brief--but The Testament is my favorite of Grisham's works. Every time I read it, I find it truly moving. It is primarily a story of change of heart and life, and is beautifully written.

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