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Entertaining and suspenseful but unbelievable...
on May 9, 2005
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.