My goal is to eventually make my way through all of these must-read titles. These books have been around for so long and read by so many that another generic review from your average reader seems unnecessary. Instead, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about the stories that paved the way for their own success… and how their perspective compares to my own reading experience. Today, I’m looking at John Grisham’s The Firm.
At the top of his class at Harvard Law, he had his choice of the best in America. He made a deadly mistake. When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray – doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail – already knew. You never get something for nothing.
M. Diane Vogt writes, “The Firm dramatizes a minimum of lawyering and instead emphasizes [Mitch] McDeere’s race to save himself…” which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Legal thrillers can be very hit or miss for me, but “this was no courtroom drama and McDeere was not our father’s Perry Mason.”
The Firm is really a conspiracy thriller that just happens to use this too-good-to-be-true law firm as its backdrop. And we know right away that it’s too good to be true (and not just because there’d be no story if it weren’t). From the start, the whole situation has a Stepford-esque quality to it. And just like main character Mitch, I was sucked in early.
This is my second time reading a John Grisham novel, and for the second time he exceeded my expectations. With such an extensive backlist, I’d imagine that if I kept reading, many of his books would start to sound the same after a while. Still, it’s gratifying to read a well-known author and come away feeling that their popularity was well-founded.
“The book energized the legal thriller, which heretofore every working lawyer knew was an oxymoron on steroids. Grisham’s ability to make the genre exciting and suspenseful by featuring larger-than-life lawyer heroes–” (another oxymoron?) “–propelled The Firm and Grisham to the top of the charts where he has remained for almost two decades.”
Legal thrillers are never going to be a go-to genre for me, but it’s nice to pick one up now and then and be pleasantly surprised.
Thirty-two down, sixty-eight to go…
Next month I’ll be discussing Bram Stoker’s Dracula.