The Firm | Critical Review by Peter S. Prescott

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of The Firm.
This section contains 354 words
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Critical Review by Peter S. Prescott

SOURCE: "Murky Maneuvers in a Lethal Law Firm," in Newsweek, Vol. CXVII, No. 8, February 25, 1991, p. 63.

Prescott is an American editor, nonfiction writer, and critic. In the following review of The Firm, he lauds Grisham's ability to write a compelling, though frequently improbable, plot.

What Robin Cook did for hospitals, John Grisham does for a law firm in his highly entertaining thriller, The Firm. What evil lurks within the file drawers of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a private tax outfit in Memphis? You'd think a bright fellow like Mitchell McDeere, third in his Harvard Law class, might be suspicious when the partners offer him $80,000 to start, plus bonuses, a BMW, low mortgage, two country clubs and his school debts paid off. He'll work 100 hours a week at first, they tell him, but he'll be a partner and a millionaire in 10 years—and as for job security, nobody ever leaves the firm. No, but five associates have met odd deaths in the past 15 years. Mitch, numbed by greed—so much money in Memphis!—signs on.

No sooner is he in place than the FBI rousts him out. They tell Mitch the firm is owned by the Chicago mob, which uses it to set up dummy corporations on Grand Cayman that launder countless millions. They offer him a choice: cooperate with the FBI and risk being murdered by his new colleagues, or refuse—and be sent to prison when the FBI moves in.

Improbabilities abound, the characters are ciphers—and yet the story has significant strengths. It contains useful information on such matters as how to send the massed troops of justice in the wrong direction, and how to move dirty money among numbered accounts. It also offers an irresistible plot. A plot that seizes a reader on the opening page and propels him through 400 more is much rarer in commercial fiction than is generally supposed. Like all such stories, it works best in its first half, when we're wondering how Mitch will be tripped up. Toward the end, the story gets physical, which requires another narrative skill. Grisham excels here, too.

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This section contains 354 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Peter S. Prescott