Monday, December 12, 2011

John Grisham isn't taking things too seriously

The Litigators
by John Grisham

There may be no literary cachet to this admission, but I've always enjoyed John Grisham novels. They're fun, they're entertaining, and Grisham rarely lets me down. A lot of his novels come packaged with a message, but his latest, The Litigators is really just a romp. It opens with successful bond lawyer David Zinc "snapping" on the way to his 80-hour-a-week job. Instead of the office, he spends the day in a bar getting absolutely blotto and reevaluating his life. Clearly changes have to be made. Still enormously inebriated, David staggers into the offices of Finley & Figg. If you were being charitable, you might call them "ambulance chasers." Senior partner Oscar Finley and junior partner Wally Figg are a couple of hustlers scraping by in their street practice. They aren't too picky about their cases, and don't loose any sleep over legal ethics. What other law firm would actually hire a drunken lunatic with no relevant experience?

Finley and Figg would because Wally insists that their ship is finally going to come in in the form of a huge mass torte case against a drug manufacturer. This case may indeed be their ticket to the big time, but all meal tickets come with unexpected complications. I've made the premise of this novel sound light, and it is, but things do get heavier as the story goes along. It's a good yarn, but the real strength of this novel is the characters. It's hard not to root for David to find his way as he swims with the sharks in treacherous legal waters. Wally is a larger than life and deeply flawed character, but it's hard not to root for him, too--for the entire firm of underdogs. Even a bar patron with a walk-on role held me captivated. The story moves quickly and the end is satisfying.

I was looking for a light vacation read and The Litigators was exactly what the doctor ordered. I shall look forward to seeing the film (that is surely in the works) some day.

1 comment:

  1. The Litigators is one of my favorite Grisham novels. I felt like that fly on the wall throughout the entire book. He puts the reader right there. You feel these people. They're fleshed out beautifully. And Grisham can be funny. A few times I laughed out loud. This is a great read and although you can probably figure out the endgame, it's just fun getting there.