Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Litigators by John Grisham

The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. And then change comes their way. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. 

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money. A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!  It almost seems too good to be true.  And it is.

Years ago, I got hooked on Grisham's writing with The Firm.  It was my first legal thriller, or maybe my first thriller of any kind, and I loved it.  It was followed by The Client and The Pelican Brief, and my ardor dimmed.  All three stories were basically the same plot with varying protagonists - a male attorney, a child, a female law student.  Then I discovered A Time to Kill, actually written before The Firm, and was head-over-heels all over again.  Since then, Grisham has written a string of legal thrillers - with divergent and varying story lines - and I've enjoyed every one.  All this to preface my initial disappointment with his newest book, The Litigators.

Throughout the first half of the book, I was reminded of The Rainmaker, and lamented that, once again, Grisham was rehashing a plot.  The idea of a young, talented attorney joining up with a bad-rep, ambulance-chasing firm to fight "the giant" - in this case a pharmaceutical behemoth rather than an insurance company - was annoyingly familiar.
But shame on me for doubting - the last third of the book destroyed my doubts.  The ending I had predicted never happened - twists and turns led down an entirely different path.  Even after the resolution of the law suit, surprises continued to pop up.

And the lesson we've learned once again:  This is why (insert name of famous author here) makes a living writing books and I don't.


  1. I've only read a few of Grisham's books, but have mostly enjoyed them. Isn't it great when an author surprises you (in a good way)? I love when books take unexpected turns and end in a way I couldn't have possibly imagined myself.

  2. I was curious to see what you thought of this as I've seen other reviews that thought it proved that Grisham was out of ideas. I did love his first few books but then felt like they were getting repetitive and formulaic. Still, his formula is better than some others!

  3. I liked the audio of this one. It also reminded me of the earlier Grisham.

    Happy New Year!

  4. I loved A Time to Kill but have never loved any of his others as much. I thought this one was okay, but I was a bit bored for much of the middle of the book.

  5. The Litigators is a face paced, fun read. He develops the characters and plot well but doesn't let it drag. Unlike some of his past offerings he doesn't run out of gas near the end of the story and just wrap things up to say he did.