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The Associate Hardcover – Print, January 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Grisham's contemporary legal thriller offers an action-and-suspense plot reminiscent of that of his breakout book, 1991's The Firm, in contrast to 2008's didactic The Appeal, which served as a platform for his concerns about the corrupting effects of judicial elections. Kyle McAvoy, a callow Yale Law School student, dreams of a public service gig on graduation, until shadowy figures blackmail him with a videotape that could revive a five-year-old rape accusation. Instead of helping those in need, McAvoy accepts a position at a huge Wall Street firm, Scully & Pershing, whose clients include a military contractor enmeshed in a $800 billion lawsuit concerning a newly-designed aircraft. McAvoy can avoid exposure of his past if he feeds his new masters inside information on the case. Readers should be prepared for some predictable twists, an ending with some unwarranted ambiguity and some unconvincing details (the idea that a secret file room in a high stakes litigation case would be closed from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. every night stretches credulity to the breaking point). Still, Grisham devotees should be satisfied, even if this is one of his lesser works.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree with Entertainment Weeklythat The Associate"is vintage Grisham, for better or worse, made timely with its sorry portrait of what passes for everyday ethics on Wall Street." Like his previous novels, The Associateis heavy on readability, predictability, and pace, and lighter on character development, scene setting, and style—no surprises here. Fans of Grisham cited masterfully drawn characters and page-turning subplots, but less enthusiastic reviewers faulted stock villains, a rather mysterious Kyle, and implausible storylines. Timeeven claimed that unlike Michael Crichton or Scott Turow, who "wrestle with actual issues," Grisham deals with, well, nothing. Still, you know what you're getting into with The Associate, for better or for worse.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385517831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385517836
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,022 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

Photo credit Maki Galimberti

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 133 people found the following review helpful By rgregg VINE VOICE on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Grisham can be one heck of a novelist when he sets his mind to it. But "The Associate" comes across as a bit lazy and unfocused. This story of a young and bright law student who is the victim of a blackmail scheme just wanders for a while and then kind of plops down in the end. I will admit that I found much of the writing interesting but it seems that Grisham wants to tell the reader the difficulties and detail of working for a massive law firm without adding any suspense or proper conclusion to the tale. Maybe he plans a sequel (?) which could be fairly dynamic but this book can be summed up fairly simply.
1. Kyle wants to work in the law.
2. Bad guy threatens Kyle with video and blackmails him to steal information from major legal firm. (Who is the bad guy? You'll never know.)
3. Kyle reluctantly cooperates.
4. Lots of meetings with bad guy and hero going over dull details.
5. Kyle agonizes
6. One moment of horror when a character dies (Who killed him? You'll never know)
7. Will Kyle execute plan of bad guy?
8. Then a completely deflating climax. (Believe me, you'll be sorely disappointed.)
There is a comparison on the book jacket to "The Firm" a previous Grisham hit novel. My advice, read "The Firm". If you must read this book, wait for the paperback to be on sale at the used bookstore near you.
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323 of 349 people found the following review helpful By J. Brian Watkins VINE VOICE on January 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Grisham is padding his billing sheet with The Associate, which seems almost to have been ghost-written. It reflects little of the talent behind The Partner, my favorite Grisham novel and, frankly, it made me somewhat upset to have spent 27 bucks. I would have been disappointed to buy this one in paperback. Time was that you started a Grisham novel and couldn't put it down. Had I not been stuck in an airport en route from a deposition I would not have had the patience to finish.

This book was like my sixth grade term paper; we all had them, you would count the words until you got to the end. Likewise, although there was some great potential in this story it was not realized. Sure, there were half-hearted attempts to bring other characters to life, but they were all just that, half-hearted. The ending was among the most disappointing that I have ever come across--in any genre.

Nobody learns anything. There is no character progression--just a slow moving train wreck from which nobody emerges having been enlightened. In fact, the reader feels much like our protagonist--forced to endure a journey that was expected to be something completely different and not entirely sure how to escape. Heavens, big law firms are such a deliciously evil mix of stunningly warped personalities and distorted goals that any number of excellent thrillers could be drawn from facts known to just about any lawyer.

I do hope that Mr. Grisham rediscovers the joy of telling a story--he is very good at it; however, I cannot recommend this book.
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136 of 151 people found the following review helpful By avid mystery reader on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have read every one of John Grisham's books and was looking forward to this one, however, after finishing it last night, I must say I was very disappointed. The ending (which, of course, I won't give away) was very lame. He spent a lot of time on the big bad law firms abusing the associates and not enough on the real story of Kyle and who were these people who were ruining his life. I would definitely not recommend it.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Adam Segel on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've been a longtime fan of Grisham and this novel was utterly terrible. There was no connection with the characters, it dragged on and on with no point, and then ended so spectacularly badly that I was searching for a missing page or something, unable to believe that was the end.
He has written many good books, and no doubt will again, but don't waste your time with this one.
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69 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Dusty Sanchez on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Grisham has been saying that this new book is similar to The Firm. This is only true in the sense that it has a young protagonist. Does he not understand what it is that people liked about The Firm and A Time to Kill? While The Associate is fun to read and a page-turner, the characters are the same old stereotypes as in all the later Grisham books. There are no detailed descriptions of anything. I hate to say it, but I think John Grisham is wasting his talent, even being a little bit lazy.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This novel grabbed me on the first page. Why is this bright young law grad doing community service? Why is the FBI stalking him? And why is he so nervous? The plot reminded me of The Firm, which I enjoyed. The writing is competent, the story initially engrossing. A large law firm blackmails its own members for a nefarious agenda. The hero is a not so innocent, but sympathetic hero...

Grisham used to write novels that kept me on the edge of my seat. I recall The Pelican Brief, and A Time To Kill. Perhaps if I read them again, I would find them dated and boring, but I remember them as fast paced and enjoyable thrillers. His recent novels, like The Broker, were disappointing. I hoped for more in The Associate. Unfortunately I did not find it. Maybe Grisham has lost his edge, or maybe I have moved on to other things. Perhaps the legal thriller has had its run, and now shows signs of age. My attention began to lag after about 100 pages. I could not believe in the characters deeply enough to care about them. When routine tasks like cleaning the kitchen take precedence over a book, it is time to seek out another book! I am sorry to write this. I really liked Grisham, and I was hoping for more. I cannot recommend this novel to lovers of true adventure. This is not a terrible book, but it is not great. It will pass the time during a long flight, or on vacation, but there are better novels out there to discover.
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