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The Associate

A book by John Grisham

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I don't feel smarter...but I was entertained

  • Feb 24, 2009
  • by
If you have read the last few John Grisham fiction books, then you probably don't have to read this review. The Associate contains the typical Grisham elements: nefarious agents seeking to pervert the law, a sympathetic young protagonist, a somehow close yet superficial look at one particular aspect of the legal profession/justice system, and an ending that leaves one (or at least me) feeling vaguely unsatisfied.

The area explored in The Associate is the big New York law firm. Grisham provides his take on the fictional firm including: the recruitment of a hotshot Yale law student, the cushy summer internship, the relentless focus on billing hours, and the work environment and stress that the young lawyers are subjected to in exchange for the prestige and salary of a New York firm (around $200,000 for a first year lawyer). As a foil, we also see the protagonist's father's small town law firm which nobly serves its clients and whose employees are motivated by more than money.

Other elements explored include the excesses of college fraternity life, a possible sexual assault superficially explored from several viewpoints and a character with substance abuse problems thrown in for good measure.

In between scenes of the associates sleeping under their desks and partners overbilling clients while expensing elaborate lunches there is also a conspiracy of outside agents of unknown origin and motive trying to steal one particular client's incredibly valuable secrets.

If the plot details I have provided are light, it is because they are really unimportant in my opinion. Just as with other Grisham fiction books of late, they are really secondary to the suspense built in the environment he carefully constructs. Thus I found little character development and I gained zero knowledge or perspective yet I found myself turning pages to see how everything was going to turn out. Also, in my opinion the ending was a let down with very little resolved. I did enjoy his take on New York big firm life, however and it was interesting to see how the pressure was affecting the young associates.

In summary, I found this book to be a guilty pleasure read. I would not recommend investing in the hardcover, however if you are boarding an airplane and searching for a paperback among the bestsellers...you could do worse.

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February 24, 2009
I think that the Partner, the Runaway Jury and the Pelican Brief are my favorites. You?
February 24, 2009
I was in the airport yesterday and almost purchased this book for my flight. Do you have a favorite Grisham novel?
More The Associate reviews
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Another lawyerly Grisham. A good not too intense summer read.
review by . June 26, 2010
The Associate - An incomplete story
The Associate written by John Graham is a balanced book. It is really good but the ending could have been better. Towards the end, you find out what the main character did, he could have done it at the start of the book as well. The story revolved around a bright law student who is forced to work in a big law firm by blackmail. He has a dark secret which is now used to blackmail him to commit corporate espionage. The entire book shows how he tracks his blackmailers, as in, how he finds out how they …
review by . January 10, 2010
Interesting how I will probably be in the minority on this one. To me, John Griham can do little wrong with his writing. The Associate is really no exception. The story is detailed without being boring and quite exciting as Kyle seems to be a bit clever in avoiding the different bugs and wire traps Bennie and his boys throw at him. The fact that Bennie's real name is never revealed or discovered is not of great consquence to the novel.    There are several subplots but each one …
review by . June 22, 2009
People ask: How do you feel when you hear that ten lawyers drowned. They answer: It's a good start.   This joke could have been written by John Grisham whose best novels focus on the diabolical and unethical intrigues of large corrupt legal firms who take unfair advantage of people we come to like as we read his tale.  The associate Kyle McAvoy is the typical likable Grisham protagonist. He is in his early twenties, a bright aspiring lawyer, in his final year at Yale Law School, …
review by . February 03, 2009
I read some of the reviews before I read this book to try and get a feel for it and from what I was reading I was like "uh oh", I hope this isn't a Grisham bomb!! Thankfully this book IS NOT near as bad as other make it out to be. It's actually not bad at all. This was a very fast paced book that was written precisely for the movies, which is not at all surprising since they announced the actors for the movie before they even released this book. Strange. Grisham truly has his own style and it's …
review by . January 27, 2009
This novel grabbed me on the first page. Why is this bright young law grad doing community service? Why is the FBI stalking him? And why is he so nervous? The plot reminded me of The Firm, which I enjoyed. The writing is competent, the story initially engrossing. A large law firm blackmails its own members for a nefarious agenda. The hero is a not so innocent, but sympathetic hero...    Grisham used to write novels that kept me on the edge of my seat. I recall The Pelican Brief, …
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About this book


Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father's small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential.

But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. The secret, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn't want—even though it's a job most law students can only dream about.

Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle becomes an associate at the largest law firm in the world, where, in addition to practicing law, he is expected to lie, steal, and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison, if not get him killed.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and villains—from Baxter Tate, a drug-addled trust fund kid and possible rapist, to Dale, a pretty but seemingly quiet former math teacher who shares Kyle's "cubicle" at the law firm, to two of the most powerful and fiercely competitive defense contractors in the country—and featuring all the twists and turns that have made John Grisham the most popular storyteller in the world, The Associate is vintage Grisham.

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ISBN-10: 0385517831
ISBN-13: 978-0385517836
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Doubleday
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