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The Litigators

The main case in John Grisham's 24th novel fails to offer enough twists and turns to hook this reader.

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The Litigators
By John Grisham
Doubleday
385 pp.

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Tom Cruise starred in the movie version of John Grisham’s “The Firm” back in the 1990s. In his latest novel, The Litigators, Grisham seems inspired by another Cruise role: “Jerry Maguire.”

Replace a sports agent facing a crisis of conscience with a lawyer facing a crisis of conscience and you have the foundation for the latest legal thriller to come off the Grisham assembly line. It is his 24th novel, to go along with a short-story collection and a recent series of children’s mysteries.

David Zinc is 31 years old, earning $300,000 per year at a powerful Chicago firm while handling lucrative but mind-numbing corporate work. Exhausted by his relentless pace – a pace that leaves him nodding off during the few hours he spends with his wife before returning to work – Zinc snaps one morning after arriving at his office on the 93rd floor of a downtown skyscraper.

Before the elevator door closes, he jumps back on and flees the building.

“When the elevator began its descent, David Zinc started to laugh,” Grisham writes. “The spinning and nausea were gone. The pressure on his chest vanished. He was doing it! He was leaving the sweatshop of Rogan Rothberg and saying farewell to a nightmare.”

With that, Grisham sends Zinc on a bender and, eventually, into the arms of an obscure firm comprised of a secretary and two ambulance-chasing principals. Of the firm, Finley & Figg, the author provides the following thumbnail sketch: “It was selective only because no one wanted to work there, including the two men who owned it.”

Grisham has sold zillions of books in the past 20 years taking a dim view of those who practice and interpret the law, hooking readers with behind-the-scenes glimpses of judges, juries, and lawyers while offering plenty of testimony detailing the injustices of the legal system. Typically, his characters are less than memorable, as is their dialogue, but the ruthless quandaries Grisham concocts usually make for fun reading.

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