The Associate

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 2009

Call number




Doubleday (2009), Edition: First Edition, 384 pages


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bigorangemichael
Good books don't necessarily have to provide all the answers to every plot thread introduced into them. We want our characters to feel like they have lives beyond the confines of the printed page and that their story exists before, during and after the book we're reading. But a good book should at least provide the reader with some sense of closure and not the feeling like an editor was standing over the writer, pointing out that he or she had x-number of pages left or he or she was slowly reaching the word count for the novel and that wrapping up the book soon would be a good idea. There should be some sense of closure, not just a sense of wrapping things up.

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
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LibraryThing member skinglist
Really thought I'd reviewed this. Decent read, ending was lame. Typical Grisham
LibraryThing member timtom
Like all Grisham thrillers, this is a good page-turner and won't last long on your bedside table. But this one comes disappointingly short compared to his other novels. The characters lack depth, the story is rather straightforward, and the conclusion is entirely, almost depressingly expected. The book is replete with the usual law-firm clichés : ginormous salaries, abusive billing, staggering work hours... so much that the actual intrigue almost becomes a side story at times. Yawn.… (more)
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
This is one of Grisham's better legal thriller books in recent years. I think there is probably just so much an author can do with the legal thriller theme, and most of it has already been done. But, Grisham does manage some surprises with this one. He also leaves enough loose ends that a sequel would not be out of the question. That's unlikely, however, since he has never been known to write one. Nonetheless, the book is a good read for a rainy weekend, and I recommend it.… (more)
LibraryThing member msimelda
Too close in subject to other Grisham books. Good for first time Grisham readers. Fizzles at the end.
LibraryThing member silversurfer
He missed the mark with this one...very little suspense and a predictable outcome....had to push myself to finish it. Next time I will whip out my library card instead of my wallet.
LibraryThing member marient
Kyle MeAvoy grew up in his father's small-town law office in York, Pa. 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 falls into the hands of the wrong people and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn't want.… (more)
LibraryThing member mikedraper
Kyle McAvoy is an idealistic law school student at Yale.
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.

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LibraryThing member bagel_bob
Good book for the first 95% of the book and then it seemed like Grisham got bored: either did not want to write a longer book and tie up all the loose ends or he got distracted and then rushed in an ending that did not satisfy. I expected a more complete, fulfilling ending.
LibraryThing member Kathy89
Very reminiscent of The Firm with a young lawyer working for a big law firm 60 billable hours a week. He's recruited and blackmailed for some corporate espionage. Ending was left so that there could be a sequel.
LibraryThing member adpaton
John Grisham has written over 20 legal thrillers and spawned an industry: he writes well and I enjoyed many of his early books but stopped reading him 15 years ago when he became tedious.

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.
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LibraryThing member taramatchi
This is the only John Grisham book I have read, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. The book for the most part was an enjoyable read, but the ending was so open ended it felt unfinished. It was like he got to a point and said " I am going to be late for a golf game so I think I am going to slap on this chapter and call it done." Most of my friends think I should try another one of his books, but I am not rushing to find one.… (more)
LibraryThing member blockbuster1994
Typical Grisham-which means an interesting story if a reader suspended disbelief and rolls with it. Much like his other novels, in the Associate, our hero is a super smart young adult who has all the potential in the world, but a whiff of a sex scandal threatens it all (even though our hero is, of course, blameless).

The ending is happy and because of the excellent writing, I liked our hero, making me a happy reader, too.… (more)
LibraryThing member CDianeK
John Grisham returns somewhat to the ambience of his earliest works with The Associate, where we meet Kyle McAvoy, a soon - to - be graduate of Yale Law School. Kyle intends to work in the public sector as a Legal Aid attorney for a few years before moving on to the Wall Street firm where he interned, and its ensuing monetary rewards. This intention is thwarted when he is confronted literally in the basketball court of his good works by men who tell him they are law enforcement officers. As the night plays out, however, he learns that the men who hold his future in their hands are part of some shadowy organization. They use a videotape of an old incident, one where Kyle and his fraternity brothers were part of an alleged rape, one which was later dismissed by the police for lack of evidence. Holding the evidence the police need to ruin Kyle and his friends, this organization lays out its plan for Kyle: He will join the Wall Street firm immediately upon graduation, and obtain documents critical to a huge lawsuit, and turn them over to his blackmailers.

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?
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LibraryThing member mcollier
I love John Grisham, but this just didn't make the cut for me. I think it is a complete waste of time to read it. The plot was interesting at the beginning, but then it just faded out. The end was honestly a mess. I feel like Grisham wanted to produce a good book, but the publishers pushed him to hurry up and finish so he just threw something together. Very disappointing.… (more)
LibraryThing member LivelyLady
This has been the first book in years that I have not been able to put down. I got up at 4 AM and read for a while. Driving to work I jokingly called my husband and asked if he would read the next chapter to me....he said NO but it was worth a try. I left work early to come home and read. Actually, I do not recall a book in recent history that had that pull on me.

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.
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LibraryThing member grrjessi
My favorite kind of crummy read. I couldn't put it down.
LibraryThing member Queensowntalia
There are many valid complaints that could be made about Grisham's writing. It's not Pulitzer-quality. You're not going to walk away from any of his books feeling enlightened or changed in some way, as the most brilliant books frequently can inspire. However, I've found, and his most recent effort 'The Associate' is no exception, his novels are just plain fun. Popcorn literature, if you will.

'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.
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LibraryThing member she_climber
Another typical Grisham novel. He tells a great story, but he just can't end it. He ends his stories like he hit a brick wall, and I find it very disappointing to put so much effort into reading a novel to have it end so abruptly. I don't expect endings where everything is nicely tied up with a bow, but I do appreciate a little finesse. However, his stories are entertaining while they're written and my husband enjoys them, so we save them to do as an audiobook when are travelling together.… (more)
LibraryThing member OneMorePage
Grisham once again recycles his long-familiar plot in this fast-moving easy-to-read tale. As in The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and The Rainmaker, a young attorney is in trouble The Bad Guys. After trying to work it out himself for awhile, he is rescued by The Good Guys (usually, and in this case as well, the FBI). He escapes both The Bad Guys and the horrors of life in a large law firm. Worth pursuing for a fast, familiar read. If you are looking for more originality in story, look elsewhere.… (more)
LibraryThing member polo9
Grisham's fan base is so secure he can get away with anything,

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".
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LibraryThing member reading_fox
Poor. It's been a long time since Grisham managed to tell a gripping story, and he hasn't succeeded this time either. There are touches of the old spark, and the setting is reminiscent of his big thrillers, but the plot is lacking in believability, the characters clunky, and it collapses into a dismally weak ending.

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.
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LibraryThing member jeremytaylor
More than fifteen years after John Grisham first took the world of legal thrillers by storm, he hasn’t lost a step. The Associate is every bit as suspenseful and entertaining as The Firm, The Runaway Jury, The Street Lawyer, or any of the other 23 best-sellers he has penned over the years. While perhaps not as thrilling as The Firm or as evocative as The Last Juror or The Testament, this book is clearly the work of an excellent storyteller.

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.
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LibraryThing member Blazingice0608
This book was impossible to put down, the suspense and action was essentially non stop. For the first 4/5 of the book it was amazing, but the ending really brought it down quite a bit for me, i usually like endings that leave some for the reader to figure out, but this one left way too much untold. And more importantly, the first 4/5 was so good because it was building up to what i thought was going to be something awesome and it just wasnt, in fact it was almost nothing at all. It really needed a good plot twist that nobody saw coming at the end and it would have been just about perfect imo.… (more)
LibraryThing member cathymoore
As others have said, this as I recall, is pretty similar to The Firm, except perhaps not quite so good. Although this made for an easy enough read I often struggled to understand the main character's motivations for his actions. His reasons for stealing secrets from his employer in the first place and then his sudden decision to tell his secret to his father, when he was previously adamant he wouldn't all lack credibility. Definitely not grisham's finest piece of work, thought perfectly readable nonetheless.… (more)




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