At the top of his class at Harvard Law, he had his choice of the best in America. He made a deadly mistake. When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray -- doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail -- already knew. You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch's firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice -- if he wants to live.
Hard to believe, but there was a time when the word "lawyer" wasn't synonymous with "criminal," and the idea of a law firm controlled by the Mafia was an outlandish proposition. This intelligent, ensnaring story came out of nowhere--Oxford, Mississippi, where Grisham was a small-town lawyer--and quickly catapulted to the top of the bestseller list, with good reason. Mitch McDeere, the appealing hero, is a poor kid whose only assets are a first-class mind, a Harvard law degree, and a beautiful, loving wife. When a Memphis law firm makes him an offer he really can't refuse, he trades his old Nissan for a new BMW, his cramped apartment for a house in the best part of town, and puts in long hours finding tax shelters for Texans who'd rather pay a lawyer than the IRS. Nothing criminal about that. He'd be set for life, if only associates at the firm didn't have a funny habit of dying, and the FBI wasn't trying to get Mitch to turn his colleagues in. The tempo and pacing are brilliant, the thrills keep coming, and the finish has a wonderful ironic flourish. It's not hard to see why Grisham changed the genre permanently with this one, and few of his colleagues in a very crowded field come close to equaling him. --Jane Adams