Saturday, October 20, 2012

“The Firm” by John Grisham – Something for Nothing

The Firm by John Grisham (book cover)
I’ve already reviewed a few of John Grisham’s most widely-acclaimed works (A Time to Kill, The Litigators and The Racketeer), but I have yet to really touch on some of his earlier successes, and The Firm is without a doubt one of them.

As a matter of fact, this is the book that put Grisham on the map for many avid readers seeking a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of recycled, cookie-cutter stories.

In any case, just to give you a brief idea of what the book is about, it follows the story of Mitch McDeere, the top student of his class at Harvard Law. He had the ability to choose to work for any company, and in the end he decided to sign on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis.

At first, it seemed as if he made the right choice: he received a BMW, all of his academic loans had been paid off, a mortgage has been arranged for a new and beautiful house, and they even threw in a decorator to help him get settled into the place he really wants.

As you can guess though, something is far from being right. In the last fifteen years, five lawyers working for this company found their way into body bags. As it happens, the company is far from being a normal one as it was brought from the ground up by the mafia for massive money laundering operations.

At this point, the FBI sees Mitch as being their way of bringing the enterprise down, and they ask for his help, leaving him stuck in a position where only two options seem viable: prison or death.

In my opinion, what makes The Firm a truly fascinating piece of literature is John Grisham’s ability to precisely describe how the mafia set up their scheme and precisely how it works, from the lowest levels to the highest. Every single procedure part of the scheme is given importance and treated as a big event by John.

To be frank, as much as we would like to say we do, an overwhelming majority of us simply don’t know how organized crime would work at such a level… I don’t know if Grisham does either, but he sure does a phenomenal job at depicting a very believable portrait of it.

Apart from this aspect, the story is also quite intriguing in the sense that it puts a character in one of those rare, real-world situations where someone is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It is known that certain people have gotten accidentally involved in the never-ending war between criminal organizations and law enforcement, with each side wanting those people to serve their purposes. Very few people have successfully managed to walk away unscathed when either helping the mafia or the police in the war.

Anyways, what I’m getting at is that it is a true pleasure to watch a truly intelligent character try to figure is way out of this bedlam; he knows he only has a limited number of moves before his time is up and he needs to fully commit to one side or the other, and he really does make the most of them.

The Firm by John Grisham (book cover)
The best way I can describe this is by comparing it to a combination of cat and mouse, chess and a Mexican stand-off… I know that doesn’t make much sense, but from a big picture, that’s precisely what they look like. Anyways, I’m going to stop before giving anything away, but I’ll just say that this is an amazing story that can’t be classified in one literary genre.

I recommend simply forgetting about all conventions, what things are supposed to be like, and simply give yourself into the story and the world it’s happening in… as a matter of fact, that approach will make literally (almost) every book much more enjoyable.



John Grisham (Author)

John Grisham


Personal site

John Grisham is an American lawyer, politician and author whose works have always been largely centered around the legal world.

Many of his novels have been adapted into films, including The Firm, The Rainmaker and A Time to Kill. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

1 comment:

  1. It's about a lawyer who gets a jail term when he finds himself involved in a legal hassle. While in prison, he inadvertently comes to know who committed the murder of the federal judge and his assistant at a lakeside villa. How he (the lawyer that is) brings all his legal skills into use and gets out of jail is the crux of the whole novel. John Grisham is at his best.

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