Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Look Review "The Associate"

“The Associate” – A Not so Great Grisham

I am a Grisham groupie, but his latest legal thriller has lots of legal without not much thriller. In “The Associate” Grisham writes following his tried and true recipe for success with the good guy who is a little David lawyer battling the Goliaths of big business, big law firms and other gigantic bad guys. You know like “The Firm” also by Grisham. I really like those types of stories – usually.

The main character is a young man about to graduate from Yale Law School. Kyle McAvoy has decided to begin his career by helping the rural poor and downtrodden and decline the big Wall Street firms who are offering him huge salaries and prestige. A shady character using the name Bennie shows Kyle a cell phone video from five years ago that could be evidence that he allowed a rape to occur in his apartment. This blackmail attempt works and Kyle finds himself trapped into working and spying at the largest law firm in the country for Bennie and his buddies.

We read a lot about the long torturous hours spent by newly hired associates at large firms. Their slavery has been well documented in many legal thrillers so there isn’t much new. Corporate espionage can be exciting to read about – but not in this novel. The young protagonist struggles against his captors but again, not too original. Young handsome Kyle, the author explains in the early chapters won’t have time to have any relationships with women, friends or even family. That conveniently excused a lot of the missing character development. Bad guy Bennie of course has no character to develop and we are never entirely sure who he is and who he works for.

In a very ambiguous ending we are left with too many questions to feel satisfied. Although we have ceased caring or even understanding the characters, it would have been nice to have a better wrap up for the plot. Did Grisham just get tired of writing the story or maybe run out of plausible solutions?

Since “The Associate” has a disappointing ending, an okay beginning and a tedious middle it isn’t really one I would recommend. I suppose there isn’t anything really terrible about it but there isn’t anything good either. If you are a Grisham groupie like me, just check it out at the library and waste a little time reading it – just don’t buy it and make the mistake of wasting both time and money.

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