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Kyle McAvoy is close to the end of his life as a law student, and about to start a new life as a qualified lawyer, just a few weeks of study and the bar exams stand in his way. That is until the FBI show up at a little league game where he’s coaching, and ‘escort’ him to a nearby cafe for a chat. The agent informs him that they have evidence of a crime he committed during his early college years, baffled Kyle asks for evidence of this so called crime, and the agents agree to produce the evidence if he meets them at a motel later that night.
Moments after arriving at the motel Kyle’s world starts to unravel, as the FBI agents show him video evidence of a possible rape carried out by his fraternity brothers, but because Kyle was present he’s also in the frame. Nothing is certain because the video doesn’t show whether the girl is awake or asleep, but the evidence is damning enough to destroy everything Kyle has worked for.
Kyle is confused, if they have all this evidence, why hasn’t he been indicted? But nothing is that simple, a conviction isn’t high on the agenda for these men, they need Kyle, they need an inside man at a big law firm, in other words they need a stooge to take all the risks and receive little reward.
Meanwhile, Baxter one of Kyle’s roommates enters rehab to kick his drug and alcohol addiction. Will Baxter throw yet another spanner in the works for Kyle?
I’ve read most of John Grisham’s books and have really enjoyed the majority of them. This book is certainly not one of his best. But I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve read a lot of his books and a lot of similar books and I just have high expectations that he’s failed to meet, or because it truly is a poor effort on Grisham’s part.
One of the things I like about Grisham’s writing is his ability to focus his stories, in other words he doesn’t have to bring in loads of characters and pages of descriptive text to shore up the storyline, and for the most part he continues in this vain. This book centres around 3 main characters with a handful of minor characters, and even when Grisham has to explain legal jargon or technicalities, he does it without waffling on, using up reams of paper.
The characters in this book aren’t particularly likeable, there’s definitely not a lot of sympathy going on when you’re reading it. For one reason or another each of the characters has arrived at their predicament purely through their own making, yet none seem to see the error of their ways. But for a storyline that has so much potential Grisham has give our main ‘hero’ no real reason for acting in the way that he does, it’s hard to say more than that without giving away too much plot, but suffice it to say, 99% of the population would have done the exact opposite of what Kyle does (in my opinion). The only person who came across as even remotely sympathetic was Kyle’s father, but even then there wasn’t a great deal of depth to him.
My major problem with The Associate is that it follows the line of so many of Grisham’s books and he does seem to be collecting bit and pieces of other novels and adding them to this one, and at least for the majority of the book Grisham writes with his usual style. The ending however is quite apart from his usual writing, I don’t want to give anything away, except to say it was a huge disappointment for me and there were so many loose ends that were not tied up.
Obviously you don’t know the ending until the end, so it was not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book as I was reading, and had I stopped about 75% of the way through, I would have given it 4.5 stars. I didn’t find it a real page turner in an ‘omg, I’ve got to know what happens next’ type of way, but I looked forward to the next instalment (that was until I got near the end).
The descriptions in the book of how large law firms in America treat their newest recruits’ makes you wonder why on earth anyone would ever want to work for them. Granted the salaries are high, but surely people have more self respect than to allow themselves to be treated that way (presuming the descriptions are even half true).
So would I recommend this book? Since I only have the option of yes or no, I have to put no despite the majority of it being well written. I would have chosen ‘Maybe’ if it was available, because it’s a book that’s okay to borrow from a library, but I wouldn’t spend any money on it (well perhaps 50p from a car boot).