Monday, July 2, 2012
The Litigators by John Grisham
It had been a while since I last read a Grisham novel, and this one was quite a treat. Most of all, I found it to be funny -- Grisham’s trademark cynicism is thick throughout.
The Litigators starts out a bit slow, but as the plot thickened I kept wanting to get back to it! The characters are, as usual, cartoonish and stereotypical – the bimbos are excessively bimbo-y, the thugs are stupid, the sleazy lawyers are unethical slimeballs, and the protagonist is one of the few “normal” characters whom we come to identify with, respect, and root for. There is loads of deception and one-upmanship among the squabbling lawyers – the “fancy suits” and ambulance-chasers alike – which just adds to the humor.
Oh yeah, the plot. David Zinc is a young, Harvard Law-educated associate slaving away his life in a big Chicago firm that he hates. He never sees his wife, and is exhausted and frustrated with the daily grind until one day when he snaps. He plays hooky from work and arrives drunk at the doorstep of Finley and Figg, an ambulance-chasing outfit run by two street lawyers. Wally Figg is greedy, aggressive, unethical, and disgusting (and funny). Oscar Finley is a sad, older, washed-up version of Wally, but his character is less developed. David happily joins their dysfunctional little firm, but soon finds himself embroiled in an implausible and complex case against a giant pharmaceutical company that puts the three lawyers in way over their heads.
The story plods along and again, gets more interesting as it goes, until what was for me the highlight – David’s brilliant courtroom performance that provides an unexpectedly exciting climax. All said, I found The Litigators entertaining and worth the read, mostly due to its rewarding conclusion.