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I don't know how The Partner by John Grisham has escaped me for so long as this is one of his earlier books. It has the action packed, conspiracy laden plot that we have come to expect from him. I read this 480 page book in less than 24 hours. While it was entertaining and suspenseful, I knew it was impossible for one character to have everything figured out.

Patrick Lanigan is a partner in a law firm in Biloxi Mississippi when he is killed in a fiery car crash. He is burned beyond recognition, and his remains are cremated and then buried. But when several weeks later, 90 million dollars goes missing from his law firm, Patrick becomes the chief suspect. Four and a half years later, Patrick is discovered living in Brazil, and is captured and tortured by some disreputable characters who are working on behalf of the companies that were bilked of their millions, including two insurance companies. Patrick does have the money, although he doesn't know the exact location of it. But he also knows a terribly powerful secret that can bring many people crashing down if the information was to be made public. The Partner becomes a literary game of chess as Patrick uses this information while bargaining with the FBI, the Justice Department and Harrison County Law Enforcement.

But while The Partner is entertaining, it is totally unbelievable. First, Lanihan has managed the almost perfect crime, and there are just too many coincidences to be realistic. He becomes an expert at disappearing, becomes proficient in a new language, masters electronic surveillance, tackles offshore banking, learns to hide money, creates gasoline bombs, and a host of other skills. I'm not sure that Lanigan was even likable, and when the book ended with a shocker, I wasn't sure if I was glad or sad for Patrick. In fact, there weren't a whole lot of likable characters in The Partner, except for maybe Sandy McDermott, who was Lanigan's college friend and served as his lawyer.

So if you're looking for something with lots of action and some twists and turns, The Partner is vintage Grisham. But don't expect it to be believable. It's more a light, summer beach book than a work of great literature.
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on November 15, 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed the intricacies and twists in Patrick Lanigan's master plot to rip off his crooked law firm of enough money to be set for life. As someone who had gotten tired of Grisham's plot technique of using a super-powerful all-knowing company or firm who could track our hero to the ends of the earth and ruin in his life, this was a refreshing change. Quite the opposite was true-those seeking Lanigan were perilously close to running out of money for the effort. Also, the painstaking methods for tracking Lanigan's whereabouts were spelled out entirely for the reader, silencing even the most doubtful reader. In many of Grisham's other books, he shirks on the plot-building duties and just tosses out a super-sleuth team that can find anyone anywhere with no explanation.

I enjoyed the non-linear storytelling style: the book opened with Lanigan being found by his pursuers, and then the backstory of how and why he stole the money, and how he hid from his pursuers, is filled in. For most of the book, Lanigan looks like a "bad guy" himself, in fact. It was a nice change-up on the way the plot was laid out.

Many have complained about the end of the book. I enjoyed the journey enough to trust Grisham with the end. I'll leave all readers to make up their own mind about Lanigan's fate.
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on February 17, 2000
Patrick Lanigan was a young lawyer who had recently become a partner in a propsperous law firm. Feeling a sense of hopelessness in his life, he plotted for months on how he would disappear and start a new life in a foreign country. He learned about a scheme in which his law firm would earn $90 million dollars for their client. Patrick obtained a new identity and stole the money. He started a new life in Brazil with a beautiful young woman, but was always looking over his shoulder. Four years later, he was found and tortured. He was brought back to the US and treated at a hospital while under arrest. He took that time to create an impecable defense for himself and eventually all charges were dropped and he went back to Brazil with $30 million dollars to live happily ever after. But he didn't... I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for an intriguing story that is a fast read. I loved the character of Patrick Lanigan, with his attention to detail and the remarkable tactics he used to win his case. I did not enjoy the ending, however, because it left you with a sense of disappointment and wonder. It was still an entertaining book that I couldn't wait to finish.
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on April 1, 2003
When an author writes a cop out ending like this they should refund your money for a waste of time. I read a book a week from a variety of authors and have read many of Grisham's books. I've enjoyed all the rest of his books and found them highly intelligent and thought out. In The Partner he makes every indication that the main character's friend Eva is madly in love with him and gives no indication or reason why she leaves him except that he wants that one last shock to the readers/audience. If you are going to end a story like this there should be some clue(s) even if they are so subtle that you have to reread some of the story to find them. Sorry if this ruins the book for anyone, but spend your money on one of his other books.
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on August 18, 1997
I read the book before reading any of these reviews, and I admit I agree with many of the critiques of the book's plot, characterization and unsatisfactory ending. Upon reflection, however, I wonder if Grisham is driving at a different message.

Consider the issues he's taken on in previous books: A Time to Kill was a statement against racism, The Chamber was his argument against the death penalty, The Rainmaker challenged the health insurance industry, and The Runaway Jury took on big tobacco. But this book doesn't have a real villain, at least not in some institutional form. The only thing that motivates all the main characters is the cry, "Show me the money!"

And here is perhaps the thrust of the novel. Grisham explores the corrupting power of greed, evidenced through lawsuit and litigation. No one is immune. Lives are shipwrecked and ethics are compromised because of the seductive desire for untold millions. Even those we believe to be noble are not above selling out their closest loved ones.

Though part of me desperately wanted a different ending, it serves as a striking commentary on utter emptiness of those whose ultimate goal is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It also reminds us once again that the best laid plans of mice, men and even Grisham heroes go aft agley.
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on April 4, 2006
I have read a few of his books and found them decent, but totally lacking in any sort of suspense or real thrills, just like his movies.

This one was a fun read. Sure it had some flaws, but Grisham will never be listed among the literary greats. They are just easily digestable fun reads, nothing more.

I will spare you the basic plotline since it has been rehashed over and over. The ending was great. Everything Patrick did was coated thick in irony and no one saw anything he did coming at them, until it was too late to do anything but accept his terms.

That Eva did the exact same thing to Patrick is delicious irony. How can you not love that? Eva was always a mysterious character, so complaints that it was out of character or doesn't make sense are totally unfounded.

Besides, the ending did have a basis in the book, remember when Eva said what she and her father went through was far and above the call of duty. This is just payback.

Why did she wait until a good chunk was gone? Simple, Greedy people are stupid. If she took all the money and ran, then the hounds would be on her. She has enough to live on forever, why be greedy and risk it all?

Of course, there is the possibility that Stephano took revenge on her, but I like to think that she totally blindsided a master deciever. What more could be more fitting to a man who really isn't very likeable, other then the kind act of taking care of his "daughter". He did all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

He could have avoided the whole thing and blown the whistle up front and surely got a percentage of the 90 million legally, and then just disappeared. Still, he got a new life, living in a place he loves, and avoided jail time, which he richly deserved. He has no cause for complaints.

It is not that surprising that there are few likable characters. Other books of his had no likeable or honest characters in then like The Brethen or The Broker. Those books had nothing but evil and/or greedy people in them. Even the government officials were evil. At least this book had a few honest, if not self-serving laywers and government officials.
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on August 3, 2002
An attorney steals US$90 million from their partners, but is him a thief? As everything in life nothing is black and white and indeed Mr. Grisham does a superb work showing how in life nothing is what it seems in the surface. Granted, he relies to much in coincidence to explain parts of the plot, but what the hell, the reader knows it is buying a shallow work, not a Pulitzer Price masterpiece. So that sort of happy go lucky developments are to be expected.
In any case, the book provides what it offers, that is, a very interesting novel in which the reader is hooked to the book to see how the main character Patrick Lanigan, whether a crook or not, works his way out of the mess he and his girlfriend are in. Since the solutions are not made out of bullets, kicks and fists, but out of sheer strategy, it is almost impossible not to feel a large degree of emphaty with Lanigan.
Some people wonder why shall a "thief" be the hero of the novel. Well, (i) Lanigan just wants to beat the system (a very strong need in all of us) and (ii) most of his actions are oriented towards self defense against other persons who are essentially dishonest.
However, the last two pages of the book are not really necessary, they do not make the plot smarter, are difficult to encopass with the smart personality of Mr. Lannigan, and are not made for this type of novels. They are a BIG mistake by the author.
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on April 9, 2000
It's probably gotten to the point where John Grisham's grocery list would sell.
It would probably be almost as good as THE PARTNER.
Grisham is a very capable writer. While it's doubtful that his books will ever be read as great literary classics, he does have a way of writing page-turning suspensers that have merit (THE CLIENT and THE FIRM being obvious examples).
But, in THE PARTNER, Big John misfires. The premise is a good one: a lawyer in-the-know screws his evil partners and disappears with $90 million. But the main character, Patrick, is portrayed by Grisham as being so totally in control that he seems almost too superhuman to care about.
This is not to say that the book isn't a page-turner; Grisham has the knack of keeping the reader interested, no matter how silly the plot. But the subplots go nowhere (particularly one involving Patrick's ex-wife), and the ending, which is supposed to be ironic, is so out-of-the-blue that it seems like a cheat.
THE PARTNER, then, is interesting enough to keep you reading, but is, ultimately, a disappointment.
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on December 25, 2013
I was intrigued by the title and concept but took a very long time to read this book.

The story took a very long time to develop, thus I had a hard time getting in to it. By the midpoint, it was fun to watch Lanigan's plan unfold. I guess four years in hiding allows one to think of everything.

The deals did have me thinking it was all too easy, and that's pretty much how things turned out.

Not one of my favorite Grisham novels. Didn't really pick up any emotional attachment to any of the characters and left with little to think about after the last page.
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on December 29, 2002
The Partner tells the story of Patrick Lanigan, an ex-partner at a firm who has been on the run for four and a half years after faking his own death in a car wreck and stealing $90 million from his law firm. The story picks up with Patrick being caught in Brazil, and the fun begins as the reader is slowly drawn into Lanigan's world, before and after his "death".
This is a strong novel, although not among Grisham's best. It's interesting to see the ways in which the legal system are manipulated, and which deals are struck and how, even if there is little doubt from a hundred pages on as to what kind of person Patrick is -- and therefore how the questions about his past are going to be answered. Patrick also seems a little too smart to be bought at face value (DNA tests of his daughter? bugging his own office?), but I guess novels are, at heart, romanicized reality at best. The Partner doesn't fully investigate everybody's fantasy of taking a vast amoung of money and running to an exotic locale, but it comes close. When all the facts are laid on the table, you'll wonder whether you would have done things any differently. And, as always, this Grisham is an easy and fast read.
Very enjoyable.
Matty J
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