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THE LITIGATORS by John Grisham

THE LITIGATORS

By John Grisham

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-53513-7
Publisher: Doubleday

A tight (in a couple of senses), unexpectedly comic courtroom saga from veteran legal eagle Grisham (The Confession, 2011, etc.).

After an unhappy showing with last year’s Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, Grisham is back in grown-up land. But grown-up is as grown-up does, and the characters who populate this latest are very, well, morally compromised—and on all sides of the law. One, David Zinc, cuts a formidable figure at the bar—and, once he’s decided that, even though he’s in his early 30s, he’s done with practicing law at a huge corporate firm in downtown Chicago, he cuts a still more formidable figure drinking himself stupid at the nearest watering hole (“Do you serve breakfast?” “Yep, it’s called a Bloody Mary”). A long bout of sucking down the sauce later, David has fallen far in the world, so far that he’s now in cahoots with a practice that likes to call itself a “boutique firm,” but that is in truth made up of a couple of dictionary-definition ambulance-chasers. Make that hearse-chasers: The brilliant legal minds at Finley & Figg like nothing better than to feed at the bottom, scouring the news and the obituaries for profit-inducing mayhem, for something, anything, to sue for. It’s a hit-or-miss business, but with David on board, the partners’ fortunes would seem to hold greater promise. Ah, but this is a Grisham novel, and the justice that’s served up, as always, cuts both ways. There are a couple of holes in the plot (if David wants out of the law so badly, why does he so quickly fall right back into it?), but Grisham has a blast with all the righteous mischief in a tale with no real heroes and plenty of villains, with Big Pharma at the heart of the story. He writes with good humor, mostly, but with some calculating nastiness as well (“Oscar’s perfect outcome would be breaking news of a pending settlement at about the same time his wife croaked on the drug”).

Grisham’s latest is a hoot—and, with its insider’s view of jury selection and other dirty tricks, a very good reason to hope to steer clear of a courtroom.