Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle McAvoy 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.
There's a distinct lack of closure to John Grisham's new novel.
"The Associate" spents 275 pages setting up the situation Kyle McAvoy faces. Years ago, his roommates at a frat party took advantage of a young woman, while she may or may not have been passed out. The young girl had a reputation and when she tried to press charges for rape, the investigation hit a quick dead end and the matter was dropped. Or so it would appear. While Kyle wasn't one of the participants, he was in the room when it happened. Now, years later video from a camera phone has surfaced in the hands of men who want Kyle to do thier bidding. He is to accept a job with a high-prestige law firm and spy on them for these men.
This mysterious group seems to have their fingers in a lot of pies an a lot of power, though it's never explained why or if they're manipulating certain aspects of Kyle's life and that of his friends. They hold the tape over Kyle's head throughout the story, saying that while it may not lead to charges it will certainly ruin the life of Kyle and his friends.
Kyle is pressed into service in an impossible situation and slowly begins to try and find a way out of it. By reading spy novels, he routinely sheds those tailing him and begins to slowly fight back, forming a plan of his own. Meanwhile, he's got the soulless first year job at a law firm and maybe a connection with a fellow female associate.
It's a lot to take in and Grisham does a nice job of keeping the plot moving for the first 300 or so pages. But it's right around a huge turning point in the novel that things slowly being to unravel. I won't say the turning point, but if you've read the book, you can probably peg it. It involves one of the group of the accused who went to Hollywood seeking his fame and fortune. Suddenly, things kick into a different gear and Kyle makes some decisions. These are things that could and should change the story and ratchet things into a higher gear, adding to the suspense and making the pages turn faster. And they do...except these things all happen 30 or so pages before the novel ends.
And the novel just wraps up. In one of the more unsatisfying endings I've read in a while, Grisham just finishes the story. In the end, justice isn't really served and you can see how Grisham is trying to create a morally ambigious ending, but yet it just doesn't feel satisfying. Kyle isn't a purely innocent character, but it'd be nice if it felt like some or any of the bad guys got what was coming to them in the end. Instead, it's one of those--hey, life sucks but what are you going to do? endings that left me frustrated and wondering where the rest of the book was.
We could at least know that Kyle got the girl or something. A hint, anything besides what we go.
And that's a shame. Because Grisham works hard in creating Kyle and allowing us to identify with him and feel sympathy for him as the net closes in around him.
This could have been great Grisham. Instead it's just mediocre Grisham
But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. The secret falls into the hands of the wrong people and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn't want.
He's approached by the FBI who introduce Kyle to a Pittsburg detecitive named Benny Wright who has a tape that may implicate Kyle in a rape that happened when he was an undergrad.
Bennie wants Kyle to take a job that has been offered by Scully and Pershing. There is a court case coming up concerning a Pentagon contract. The USAF would award 10 billion up front and build 250 - 450 planes over the next 30 years. Potentially 800 billion contract and two firms claim to own the design of the plane.
Kyle is an ethical person who seems to go along with Bennie but doesn't break any confidentiality or privacy restrictions.
Bennie has Kyle followed and his home bugged and when one of Kyle's fraternity brothers comes out of rehab and wants to speak to the woman who claims rape to ask her forgiveness something happens to him.
Grisham does his usual job of keeping the reader guessing. The tension mouts as we wonder if Kyle will be appointed to the case and then, will he betray his oath and give in to the blackmail.
Kyle is a nice character, if somewhat weak and the story is interesting.
He has remained a best seller but when I started The Associate I didn’t expect much: young, idealists, do-gooder lawyer, determined to make a difference, etc etc, is blackmailed into joining a huge soulless law firm as a spy.
Definite shades of The Firm, but better, and I was soon completely hooked. The ending was disappointingly inconclusive but that is my only criticism of this exciting, tightly written and intriguing novel.
The ending is happy and because of the excellent writing, I liked our hero, making me a happy reader, too.
While this book has been compared favorably to The Firm, and there are elements of that book in this one, I feel there are many differences. In Kyle, I did not feel the unease or the fear that I remember Mitch McDeere feeling. Though he told his friends and later his lawyer and federal agents he was afraid, Kyle did not seem to be that afraid when dealing with his handlers. Kyle seemed to drift through the whole thing. Initial plans for his career thwarted? OK. Grueling schedule for first year associates? Eh, all right. Girlfriend? He'll take one, thanks. At the end, new career path? All righty then. Smart mouthed, and cocky, Kyle just seems to take it all in stride.
There are various supporting characters, who seem to play little, if any part in Kyle's story. They might have, had they been fleshed out just a little more. Why bring up his mentally ill mother, if only to have her appear in a few paragraphs only?
While I enjoyed The Associate more than his previous work, The Appeal, I had many questions at the end of the book, which I hesitate to list here, as I don't want to spoil the ending. But when there are more questions than answers at the end of a book, I feel the author has not completed his task at all. I return to my familiar refrain with Grisham: Please take a little more time with your books. Do you have to put out one a year? How about one every two years?
A college incident returns in the form of blackmail and extortion to Kyle McMcAvoy, a law student - soon to be lawyer. He accepts a job at a high profile firm in Manhatten, taking on a challenge in exchange for his past not ruining his present.
Like I said, this is a page turner and one of Grisham's finest.
'The Associate' tells the story of a young law student who finds himself blackmailed into spying on his law firm. There's a great deal of insight into the legal profession here - as a lawyer, of course, Grisham would know. It's rather fascinating, and sounds exaggerated - though whether it is or not I can't say.
The book's a fun, quick read. The protagonist is likeable, the toughness of his situation understandible. I will say this: as a woman, the moral.. grayness of the past event that haunts him is somewhat bothersome. Basically, in college he was partying with a group of boys who seemed to have taken advantage of a woman while she was passed out. The various characters go on about how she was promiscuous and how she'd slept with them before.
I havent quite decided if I should be aggrieved by this or not. There seems to be some latent sexism there. But I think perhaps the moral ambiguity of the event was done on purpose. Still - it grates somewhat. After consideration, I took off a half-star.
Setting that aside - the characters are interesting, the plot is fast-paced, and the insight into law firm life is intriguing. A good summer read, if you don't let the moral sketchiness get to too much.
He gives evidence in his recent works that he doesn't really care anymore!
Fifty pages into the Associate, I knew that I did not want to follow wherever he was going to take an absurd plot while revisiting elements from previous works and I no longer wanted to "associate" myself with his work in any respect.
Is this too extreme? Maybe, but, I thought I would check with the critics to see if I had missed something. They were very careful to recognize his narrative abilities, professional skills and great success before they dismembered him. He deserves it.
He has been in decline for years, forget about G, get a life, move on.
This book deserves a zero for effort; previous critical eras would have dismissed it as "old wine in new bottles" or, worse, a "potboiler".
Kyle McAvery is a typical yuppy lawyer, just out of Yale and ready to take up his big job, with his big law firm. One day he gets a bit of a shock to find some local characters have rooted about in his life, and found a video that he thought had never been made. They don't want money, they want documents, specifically from his new big law firm. There follows a large chunk of Kyle attempting to be sneaky in non-clever ways, and a few meetings with his blackmailers, and a bit about how hard corporate law is, and then it ends.
I think it's supposed to be another version of hate piled on for corporate law firms, but it all comes across a bit weak. Especially the ending, which doesn't resolve any of the questions raised during the book. There is none of the courtroom fire and drama, which a 'law story' really needs. Granted this may be slightly more true to life, but it's always a notable lack when Grisham doesn't include any. This read more like a bad thriller, with inept law agents and a do-it-yourself hero. There's a brief love interest, the old kindly manager, the scary manager etc, but none of them have any personality. I never really connected to Kyle, and didn't care whether he escaped, got caught or crashed and burned.
It's readable, Grisham can still write engaging sentences, but as a book it's just not worth the effort.
Kyle McAvoy is about to graduate from Yale Law School and head off for a year or two of public-service law work—doing his duty to society before entering the high-stakes, high-reward world of corporate law. But his plans change when he is contacted by a man claiming to be in possession of a video implicating Kyle in a crime that occurred years ago. The man threatens to release the video to the public, effectively squashing any chance of a successful legal career, unless Kyle joins a New York law firm and illegally feeds his contact inside information about a multibillion-dollar lawsuit. Kyle reluctantly agrees—but he has a hidden agenda of his own. If he can prove his innocence before actually breaking any laws, he just might be able to escape with his reputation intact. But the stakes are high; if he fails, he may forfeit not only his career but his life.
Interestingly (and probably unfortunately to some), The Associate has some elements that seem very familiar from previous Grisham books. The young lawyer slaving away for a faceless corporate behemoth, performing essentially mundane tasks for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, forced against his will to do something that turns out to be financially profitable, trying to figure out how to buck the system and turn the tables on his conspirators—these storylines have all occurred in previous novels.
What John Grisham offers readers is not so much uniquely new stories as familiar-seeming stories with a unique twist. Few authors can pull this off without seeming stale and repetitious. Grisham succeeds, and his success is evident not only by the number of readers who continue to come back for more but by the entertainment value his books offer. The Associate is vintage Grisham. The familiar characteristics combine with enough new material—and just plain good writing—to make it absolutely entertaining.