Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE FIRM by John Grisham Kirkus Star

THE FIRM

By John Grisham

Pub Date: March 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0440245923
Publisher: Doubleday

Terrifically exciting and likable first novel about tax lawyers and the Mafia, and a predictable success already sold to the movies, etc. Grisham does not cut as deep or furnish the occasional shining paragraph that Scott Turow does, but he writes a stripped, cliche-free page that grips and propels. Mitchell McDeere, married and tops in his class at Harvard, has great offers from several firms and is hungry for success. When Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis snows him with money, a new BMW, a low-interest mortgage financed by the company, a huge clothing allowance and other incredible perks, (including early retirement as a multimillionaire), he seems to have landed in fairyland. Nothing is too much for the one new man a year the firm takes on. All that's required from him in a 90-hour week for several years and a fast hand at billing clients. Most of the firm's clients, seemingly all wealthy and ready to be billed unlimitedly, are content not to question the firm's methods at relieving their tax strain. For a while all looks legal. Then McDeere learns of the heavy mortality rate among the firm's lawyers: no one ever quits Bendini, Lambert & Locke. They die. It turns out that while the firm has many clients with clean hands, it nonetheless was set up by the Mafia as a pumphouse for siphoning drug dollars and other untaxed cash into phony corporations set up in the Cayman Islands. In fact, the firm's lavish Lear jet regularly hauls tons of US legal tender down to the islands with their hundreds of tax-haven banks and secret numbered accounts. Then the FBI chooses McDeere to be its chief informant and offers him its Witness Protection Program; otherwise, McDeere will be swept up in the forthcoming crackdown on the firm. Although the firm knows McDeere is a spy and sets him up for assassination, he is smarter than even the reader knows and fights back against both the firm and the FBI. Hallucinatory entertainment.