by John Grisham
Fresh from lambasting booksellers for slashing the price of his latest hardback, John Grisham returns to the day job with The Associate, a piece of classic if not supreme Grish. Set on Wall Street, our hero is Kyle McAvoy, a talented, ambitious and rather idealistic newcomer. For Grisham, the world of corporate law is not so much dog eat dog as dog blackmail dog to gain control over dog number two's life. In Kyle's case, the incriminating evidence arrives in a dark alley one night courtesy of several shady characters. They have footage of some Harvard frat boy pranks that appear to implicate Kyle in a rape. Rather than do some saintly pro bono work, Kyle is 'encouraged' to take a high-flying Wall Street gig that has more strings attached than all the violins in Europe. Everything trips smoothly along until the final pages. Kyle struggles with his desire for success, his desire not to be caught and his desire to do the right thing. And then, the plot ends suddenly like a lemming leaping from a cliff. Whether Grisham is making a point about the incompleteness of life or setting us up for a sequel isn't clear. Either way, The Associate ain't half bad - or should that be ain't three-fifths bad?