- The Firm (novel)
:"For the film of the same title, please see
The Firm (1993 film)"Infobox Book |
name = The Firm
image_caption = First Edition Hardcover
country = U.S.
language = English
Random House(1st edition)
release_date = 1 February 1991 (1st edition)
media_type = Print (
pages = 432 (Hardcover 1st edition)
isbn = ISBN 0385416342 (Hardcover 1st edition)
"The Firm" is a 1991
legal thrillerand the second novel by John Grisham. It was his first widely recognized piece of work, and in 1993, was made into a film starring Tom Cruise. Grisham's first novel, " A Time to Kill", was successful but did not bring the author the attention of the general public.
Mitchell Y. McDeere is a law student who graduated third in his class at
Harvard Law School. Mitch has recently married his girlfriend from college, Abby. His brother Ray is serving a prison term, and his other brother, Rusty, died in Vietnam.
Mitch has offers from law firms in New York and
Chicagobut eventually decides to join Bendini, Lambert and Locke, a small tax law firm based in Memphis. The firm seduces him by offering him a large salary, a lease on a new BMW, a low interest mortgageon a house, as well as paying off his student loans. Soon after he joins, his new colleagues help him study and pass his bar exam.
Two of Mitch's colleagues die in a scuba diving accident in the
Cayman Islandsthe week he starts at the firm. Mitch finds the deaths unsettling, but settles down, works hard, and works towards his dream of becoming a successful partner in the firm. During a memorial serviceat the firm for the two deceased attorneys, Mitch notices plaques commemorating three other attorneys who died while working at the firm. Suspicious, he hires a private investigator, Eddie Lomax, an ex-cell mate of his brother Ray, to investigate the deaths of the attorneys.
Lomax discovers that all five of the deceased attorneys, died under questionable circumstances: the SCUBA accident, a car accident, a hunting accident and a suicide. He cautions Mitch to be careful. Soon after delivering his report to Mitch, Lomax is murdered.
Just as he passes his bar exam, an FBI agent, Wayne Tarrance, confronts Mitch. Mitch gradually figures out that the firm is actually part of the white collar operations of the Morolto
crime familyof Chicago. For years, the Moroltos have lured new lawyers from poor backgrounds into the firm with promises of wealth and security. By the time a lawyer is aware of the firm's actual operations, he cannot leave. No lawyer has escaped the firm alive, as the recent deaths of his two colleagues show. Mitch learns that his house, office and car are bugged. He and Abby are also routinely followed, making his meetings with the FBI dangerous. Pressure from both the firm and the FBI, who warns him he will regret not cooperating later on if he chooses to ignore them, force Mitch to make a decision quickly.
Desperate to find a way out and stay alive in the process, Mitch makes a deal with the FBI, in which he gets two million dollars and the release of his brother, if he collects enough evidence to indict the firm. Mitch tells Tarrance that he can obtain enough evidence to indict half the firm, but the information obtained through those indictments will prove the existence of an illegal conspiracy—giving the government the
ammunitionit needs to destroy the firm and the Morolto family. In order to do so, however, Mitch must disclose information about his clients, and thus end his career as a lawyer (though in truth, the attorney-client privilegedoes not apply to situations where a lawyer knows that a crime is taking place). Working with Lomax's secretary and lover, Tammy, Mitch begins to copy confidential documents and makes plans to deliver them to the FBI as planned.
Meanwhile, the firm becomes suspicious, and with the assistance of "Alfred", a mole in the FBI, they discover Mitch's plan. Once Mitch learns of this, he runs from both the FBI and Mafia with his brother who escaped from jail, and his wife. He steals approximately ten million dollars from various bank accounts belonging to the firm.
Mitch manages to escape to the Caribbean with the help of Barry Abanks, a scuba diving business owner whose son died in the incident where the firm killed two lawyers, and George, a bank robber from
Australia, while the FBI gets the evidence they need to bust the firm through a variety of documents Mitch and Abby copy from the firm. At the end, Mitch, Abby and Ray are quietly enjoying their newfound wealth in the Caribbean region.
Marilyn Stasio from the
New York Times( 24 March, 1991) comments that "Mr. Grisham, a criminal defense attorney, writes with such relish about the firm's devious legal practices that his novel might be taken as a how-to manual for ambitious tax-law students." [Citation
title = Book review desk - Crime
New York Times
24 March, 1991
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE4DB113EF937A15750C0A967958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all]
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