February 02, 2009 12:00 PM

by John Grisham

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

FICTION

Grisham is back in familiar territory to anyone who’s read, seen or absorbed by osmosis ’91’s The Firm: a hotshot law student is drawn into a sinister web at a powerful law firm, where he must outwit evil and mysterious men to survive. Unlike that earlier book, though, The Associate features a hero, Kyle McAvoy, whose overworked life is described in underworked prose, and whose central dilemma—involving an old rape case and blackmail—is less than inspiring. It might’ve worked better if the villains were scarier, and if McAvoy weren’t so much like Charlie Sheen in Wall Street (without the drugs and expensive female company). Still, Grisham’s confident style hasn’t changed, and there’s suspense aplenty—enough to tide over fans while they wait for him to recapture his old genius.

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