Book Review: The Associate

10 Apr

Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father’s small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief ofThe 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, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn’t want—even though it’s a job most law students can only dream about.

Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle 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.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and villains—from Baxter Tate, a drug-addled trust fund kid and possible rapist, to Dale, a pretty but seemingly quiet former math teacher who shares Kyle’s “cubicle” at the law firm, to two of the most powerful and fiercely competitive defense contractors in the country—and featuring all the twists and turns that have made John Grisham the most popular storyteller in the world, THE ASSOCIATE is vintage Grisham.


My Impressions:

Faced with a 4 hour drive to see my daughter in college, I went to the local Cracker Barrel to rent one of their audio books.  Two Grisham novels beckoned, and I chose The Associate.  My husband read this novel a few years ago and his reaction was eh.  About the same as mine.  After a 7 1/2 hour two day car trip, I was about 3/4 of the way through the audio book.  Upon return, I got my paperback copy off the shelf to read the remaining chapters to find out just what would happen.

Kyle McAvoy is a successful law student when approached by shady men looking for an insider at the law firm where he had clerked the summer before.   Faced with the choice of going along with their plans or having his life destroyed, he chose the former, becoming a first year associate at the world’s largest and very prestigious Wall Street law firm.   He fights the betrayal of his new firm and the violations of ethics and the law code at every turn in true Grisham style.

The Associate is a lot like all of Grisham’s books — filled with suspense, legal maneuvering, and the lone man pitted against large organizations/law firms/government agencies.  It keeps you interested, but it is not the best of Grisham’s that I have read.  The outcome is fairly predictable.

One aspect I found interesting was the depiction of one character’s road to sobriety and salvation. Grisham is a professing Christian, and I think his book The Testament is a look into what he believes.  In The Associate, the womanizing, drug and alcohol abusing Baxter Tate is confronted with his need for a savior, and his new life of service and sobriety are a testament to the life-changing power of Jesus.  Unfortunately, the book is not about Baxter, so his conversion is used as a plot twist.  Even so, I feel that Grisham’s portrayal of Baxter’s conversion is a wonderful inclusion in a book that can reach so many non-Christians.  For that alone I would recommend The Associate to my unbelieving friends.



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