Wasteful. Of all the lawyers presented in John Grisham’s latest legal thriller, The Associate, only one or two are developed enough to engender any reader empathy. While protagonist Kyle McEvoy is presented as if he is a good guy, his behavior will come across to most readers as inconsistent and often conflicted in ways that would reflect multiple personalities rather than an integrated individual. Really smart people, like Kyle and other editors of the Yale Law Review, can do stupid things, but not to the scale on which Kyle has behaved. While I’ve come to anticipate character development shortcomings in Grisham’s novels, the plot of The Associate also left a lot to be desired. Bad guys of unknown origin blackmail Kyle to spy for them at the world’s largest law firm handling a huge lawsuit involving two big defense contractors and a multi-billion dollar contract. Grisham riffs on intelligence gathering and surveillance methods, but uses blunt ways like murder to start and stop plot developments. These plot twists made me laugh at times, and that brought some pleasure to reading The Associate. Consider reading The Associate at a time and place where you can relax and not care a lot, like the beach or on an airplane. Don’t anticipate any insights into our human condition or into the way law is practiced.
Rating: Two-star (Mildly Recommended)