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Having Fun Again?
on October 25, 2011
Early on in Grisham's career, he wrote with fire. He went off against the ills of the legal and political systems, kicked greed between the legs, and did it all with some memorable, believable characters. His success was not surprising. Then, he stumbled. He lost the fire. I barely hung on through books like "The Brethren" and "The Broker." But last year's "The Confession" showed him kindling some new heat over a subject he is passionate about, and I applauded it, even if it was a bit stale at times.
"The Litigators" is the first Grisham book I've had fun reading in a long time. I get the feeling he had fun writing this one. We meet grouchy Oscar Finley and plucky, unethical Wally Figg, partners at Finley & Figg. These are some humorous, annoying, even likable guys scraping to make a living through any client and situation possible. They're propped up a the tough secretary. They're bottom feeders. Along comes David Zinc, who can no longer stomach the hundred-hour work weeks at a legal firm where 600 other lawyers are employed. He goes off the rails, decides to check out one fine morning, and ends up drunk hours later on the steps at the ignoble Finley & Figg. Despite his recent bender, he's actually a guy who loves his wife, albeit not always well, and still retains some ethical and legal standards, since he's not yet stepped foot into a court or heard the way things go down between a rascally attorney and a leering judge.
With Finley & Figg adding Zinc to their recipe, the mixture bubbles over. Figg stumbles into a potentially huge torts lawsuit against a pharmaceutical manufacturer (while scraping for clients at a funeral home, no less), and he starts signing up other clients (ones who are alive, thank goodness). In his enthusiasm, he drags along Zinc and senior partner Finley, eventually landing their tiny firm in court against a formidable armada of attorneys.
As I whipped through the pages, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion--and for all the right reasons this time. Grisham gives us some great characters, three-dimensional, likable, understandable, despicable, and everything in between. This is the Grisham I remember, one who was passionate, even fiery, but who also loved people and never forgot they were the driving force in his stories. Something has shifted. That fire is back. And this is easily my favorite Grisham in years.