The Associate by John Grisham

The Associate

Reviewed by Allen Hott

An intriguing story of monster law firms and how they operate. Perhaps not always on the up and up but always with growth in mind. They have the finances, know-how and personnel to pull off some unbelievable feats.

The Associate tells of a young man who has been an excellent student his entire life and now looks to get into the legal profession. He has been somewhat pulled in that direction because his father has run a successful business in a small town for many years. Although his father is a very good lawyer he has never attempted to become one of the “big boys” in his profession as he favors working with and for the people in a small town. He is well known, well liked, and makes a better than decent living in this small town.

Kyle McAvoy, the son, has pretty much figured out that he would follow in his father’s footsteps or perhaps even go into legal work helping those less fortunate. But before that he has to finish up getting his degree at Yale and pass the bar exam.

However all of his plans seem to be pushed aside when one day after finishing up coaching a little league ball team that he handles a strange thing occurs. Out of the stands a man saunters over to Kyle and asks if he has a minute.

Before Kyle can say much the man shows him a badge and announces that he is with the FBI and needs to have a conversation with Kyle. Although Kyle tries to put it off the man quietly threatens that there is an indictment out of Pittsburgh for Kyle and three of his fraternity brothers from college. They tell Kyle he has the choice of going with them to meet with a detective from Pittsburgh named Bennie Wright who will explain the entire situation.

Kyle, based on his background from listening to his father’s legal dealings, tries to step away but he then consents to listening to their spiel. He wants everything recorded while they talk so that he has a full background on what is happening.

The meeting with Bennie turns out to be much more than Kyle expected. He is told that a young girl has come to the authorities with a story of a rape that took place several years ago at the fraternity house by the four brothers. And that there is a video that shows the whole episode!

After meeting with Bennie and seeing the tape, Kyle is at a loss as to what to do because if this gets out in the news he and the other three will be, at the least, looked down on very harshly. And it sounds as though the punishment will be much more than that.

However Bennie proposes a scheme that will save Kyle and his brothers. What he wants Kyle to do is completely unethical and most likely illegal. How Kyle faces this dilemma is the crux of The Associate.

Having the legal background really allows John Grisham the ability to build these fantastic stories. Normally his legal stories involve the courtroom and the many nuances involved in that arena. However here Grisham has built a very plausible story about the legal profession without once entering the courtroom. A great look at what can and very likely does occur outside the legal jurisdiction but involves legal professionals and their abilities to cause dilemmas without a judge around. Great story with lots of subplots and believable characters! Keeps the reader’s interest down to the final decision!

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