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Top Mysteries Challenge review: The Firm by John Grisham

Genre: Thriller
Year of publication: 1991
Setting & time: Mostly Memphis, Tennessee, with brief stops and other places around the USA, and the Cayman Islands; contemporary

Rookie tax lawyer Mitch McDeere accepts a lucrative job offer from a prestigious law firm, but finds out to his dismay that all is not what it seems within the firm. Caught between a rock and a hard place, he has to use his wits and find a way out of the hole he has dug himself into.

Review: Many years ago I overdosed on John Grisham novels and swore I would never read another of his books again, but since I have committed myself to finish all the books easily available to me that are on the challenge list, I knew that sooner or later I would have to tackle The Firm. When I started reading it soon became apparent that distancing myself from Grisham had made me forget what it was in the first place that I had disliked about the books.

The Firm is a hugely enjoyable thriller, even if the protagonist is a bit too perfect, a bit too smart. Grisham does a good job of slowly increasing the pressure in the narrative until it hums with tension, and then he lets go, spinning out a tense and thrilling climax and a satisfying, if unrealistic, ending. The characterisations are scant, except for those of Mitch and his wife, but he manages to avoid stereotyping, which can be difficult in a plot-driven narrative like this one. Altogether a fine thriller, although I had to laugh when I got to the ending, because that was when I remembered what annoyed me about at least one of the books I read during the aforementioned Grisham binge: the hero and heroine relaxing on a tropical beach with cold drinks and the promise of sex in the air. I don’t remember why it annoyed me so, but it did, but I didn’t let it affect my rating of this novel. 4 stars.

Books left in challenge: 70
Place on the list(s): MWA 42
Awards: None I know of


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