Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
Another retread of The Firm
am 10. November 1999
Why was this book even necessary? Even "The Firm", which this book clones, was far from thrilling. The plotline of the firm involved a lawyer who had to run from the mob and get to the finish line, I mean, the Witness Protection Agency. Will he get there in the nick of time? I'll let you know after I finish yawning. Well, guess what? The same story isn't any more thrilling when you substitute an 11-year-old boy for the lawyer, as was done here. It's also no more thrilling than it was in "The Pelican Brief", in which a young law student who's described as a redheaded cheerleader type (Julia Roberts screenplay anyone?) replaced the lawyer.
This in itself might not matter if the characters were involving, but characterization is one of Grisham's weakest points. As if that wasn't enough, he also employs the Idiot Plot. If Mark, the precocious-beyond-his-years 11-year-old, had made an anonymous phone call to the police from a pay phone, telling them what he knew, no one would have been the wiser, the mystery would be solved, and Mark's life wouldn't have been in danger. However, the book would have to stop too soon, so Mark is required to put himself in a situation where he's seen as a threat. Everyone, including the "bad guys" chasing Mark, has to be improbably moronic enough never to get him, just as they never got Mitchell in "The Firm" or Darby in "The Pelican Brief". By now, it's not even worth wondering what will happen in this by-the-numbers plot, any more than it would be worth wondering if just once, Elmer Fudd could outsmart Bugs Bunny.
The saddest part of this novel is the character of Reggie Love, the fifty-ish lawyer who had an interesting background story AND a potentially three-dimensional and complex personality. Unfortunately, complex personalities are not Grisham's cup of tea, since he never develops her further as a character. He has the police give the lowdown on Reggie: she was married to an egotistical doctor who dumped ol' Reg for a young trophy wife, turned Reggie's own children against her, and emotionally abused her to the point where poor Reggie ended up checking into a mental hospital. But then, like the phoenix, Reggie rises again, putting herself through law school and becoming one damn fine lawyer. Hokey? Yes, but in the hands of a capable writer, it could have been the bittersweet portrait of one woman's triumph over adversity (even if she still doesn't see her children). Needless to say, this plotline gets nothing more than a paragraph here and there, while the ever-boring main story of the "thrilling" chase drags on. You know a book's in trouble when the author doesn't even know which plot and character is the interesting one. Please, Mr. Grisham, if you're so insistent on making it big in the movies, stick to movie scripts. Don't try to turn a 2-hour chase into a 200-page book. Don't waste my time.