The King of Torts

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The King of Torts
King of Torts by John Grisham cover.jpg
Author John Grisham
Country United States
Language English
Genre Legal thriller novel
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
ISBN 0-385-50804-2
OCLC 51033987

The King of Torts (2003) is a legal/suspense novel written by American author John Grisham. Doubleday published the first edition (ISBN 0-385-50804-2) in hardcover format; it immediately debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, remaining in the top 15 for over 20 weeks.[1] Dell Publishing published the paperback edition later in 2003 (ISBN 0-440-24153-7).


Clay Carter is a poorly paid lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender ("OPD"). He dreams of one day joining a big law firm. Reluctantly, he takes on the case of Tequila Watson, a man accused of a random street killing. Clay assumes that it is just another Washington, D.C. murder.

But Clay soon learns of a pharmaceutical conspiracy, with the help of the mysterious Max Pace. The pharmaceutical company was illegally using recovering drug addicts for medical trials without their consent. The drug, Tarvan, works for 90% of their patients, but in some cases (including Tequila Watson's), it leads patients to indulge in random, violent killings.

The drug company employs Pace and his shadowy associates to solicit Clay's help in paying off the victims with large settlements. Clay has reservations but soon profits from the legal retainer offered by Pace. Clay leaves the OPD and raids some of their staff to establish his law firm.

Pace offers Clay insider information on the dangers of another drug (Dyloft and Maxatil). Clay uses this information to launch a new career in tort law. Soon, he finds himself being one of the legal profession's biggest tort lawyers and conniving with other high-powered tort lawyers. But this sudden fame doesn't come without a price, and soon he's under investigation for various misdemeanors, including insider trading.

In the end, Clay is beaten up by some men from Reedsburgh, which sends him to the hospital. Then, he loses a huge case against Goffman and slides downhill as previous, disgruntled clients sue him. In the end, he runs away with Rebecca to London.

List of characters[edit]

  • Jarrett Clay Carter II - The main protagonist of the story
  • Max Pace - a mysterious adviser of Clay Carter
  • Tequila Watson - A victim of the side of effects of the mysterious drug, Tarvan
  • Adelfa Pumphrey - Mother of the slain victim, committed by Tequilia Watson
  • Rebecca Van Horn - Clay's on and off girlfriend
  • Bennett Van Horn - Rebecca's rich interfering father
  • Barbara Van Horn - Rebecca's pushy mother
  • Jermaine
  • Miss Glick
  • Oscar Mulrooney
  • Paulette Tullos
  • Ridley - Clay's model girlfriend used to make Rebecca jealous
  • Patton French - The wealthiest tort lawyer in the U.S.
  • Dale Mooneyham
  • Rodney
  • Jonah


  1. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller List" (PDF). February 23, 2003. .

External links[edit]