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The Litigators: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2012
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“John Grisham is about as good a storyteller as we’ve got.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Grisham holds up that same mirror to our age as Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.”—The Boston Globe
“A mighty narrative talent.”—Chicago Sun-Times
About the Author
John Grisham is the author of twenty-four novels, including, most recently, Calico Joe; one work of nonfiction; a collection of stories; and a series for young readers. The recipient of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, he is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He lives in Virginia and Mississippi.
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"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.
The story starts with David Zinc having an employment breakdown. As he makes his way to his large firm in downtown Chicago for another 14 hour day of "slave labor," if you can call it that at $300,000.00 salary a year, David can't take it anymore. He dives back into the elevator, flees the building and spends the day getting drunk in a local bar (not his normal routine).
At the end of the day he stumbles out of the bar into a cab and is taken to the law offices of Finley & Figg in the not so good part of town. He drunkenly stumbles into their office and before you know it he has a new job as am ambulance chasing lawyer for a small boutique firm.
The other two lawyers, Finley and Figg are not the hero's that you want them to be. They instead are the bottom of the barrel lawyers who lie, cheat and pay off clients to sign up with them. They offer quickie divorces, DUI hearings and anything else they can drum up.
So, the book starts off slow. I write these reviews as a hobby and I have to tell you that I didn't even want to finish the book. At 1/3rd of the way through I set it down and read David Balacci's new book instead. I then came back and forced myself to read more because I can't review what I don't read.
Well, I have to tell you, after all the bad feelings I had I found myself at about 75% of the way through the book and wanting to know how it was going to end. The lawyers had become part of a mass tort lawsuit regarding a new drug. But when everyone else dropped out because it appeared to have no merit they were forced to go to Federal Court and try the only case that was going to go to trial. None of the three had ever been in Federal Court. None had ever tried a case like this. So, what was going to happen.
Maybe I was reading because I just wanted to see them get their heads handed to them in a bad trial.
But at 85% of the way through the book it finally picks up steam and the real thrill starts to happen. Down to their last ace in the hole (the novel lawyer, David) the trial enters it's last phase. Just when it looked like there was no hope David finds a small opening in the defense attorney's strategy and turns on the heat. What will happen? Well, you have to read it to find out.
By the end of the novel I was again liking John Grisham. I still didn't particularly like the three lawyers, but I was warming up to one of them and enjoyed the book completely.
So, while at first I wouldn't have given it two stars an a favorable review I ended up giving it 4 stars and enjoying the book.
I hope you enjoy it was well.