THE BLOG
02/18/2009 12:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

John Grisham on Scamming Billable Hours - An Audio Book Review

TITLE
The Associate

AUTHOR
John Grisham
The Appeal, The Innocent Man, A Time to Kill, The Brethren, The Firm, etc, etc, etc

GENRE
Law Firm Drama

LENGTH
9 hours, 11 CDs, Unabridged

PUBLISHER
Random House Audio

NARRATOR
Erik Singer,
Actor, All My Children, As the World Turns

LOG LINE
A first-year associate is blackmailed by a deadly group of professional operatives to spy on his own law firm.

COMMENT
The premise of The Associate is promising and classic Grisham. A 25-year-old former editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Review - read: very smart - and first-year associate at a huge New York law firm, is sucked into intrigue and mayhem way beyond his pay-grade. Shia LaBeouf has already been cast for the movie.

Because it's Grisham, the listener keeps going hoping the guy will triumph over his tormentors - the ones he works for and the ones who are blackmailing him.
Unfortunately, this young legal whizz-bang never quite whizzes or bangs big enough to overcome any of the miscreants. And the whole thing just fizzles out in the end.

Basically, what you've got here is nine hours devoted to how a large New York law firm humiliates junior associates and promotes rampant scamming of billable hours to unsuspecting clients. To non-practioners, it's revealing and disheartening.

Narrator Erik Singer deserves major credit for keeping the listener tuned-in. The actor's got a lot of male and female characters to voice and he differentiates them with adroit subtlety and skill - at times, you forget there's only one person doing all the talking.

John Grisham's is a rock star for Random House with big clout. The publisher shipped 72,000 CD abridgements and 48,000 unabridgements of The Associate, with the belief the book will sell inspite of any negative reviews. They seem to be right. It's already #1 on the NYT and LAT print best seller lists.

BOTTOM LINE
Law school graduates and large firm associates may find it interesting to hear how this legal sausage is made. All others: probably not.

Word on the street is Grisham is also responsible bringing former senior executive, STEVE RUBIN, back to the company. Rubin is the guy who brought a young Grisham to the firm years ago and later became his editor. When Rubin was fired last December in a RANDOM HOUSE 're-structuring,' a phone call to the re-structurers informed them that Grisham goes where Rubin goes. That kind of loyalty is rare in publishing. The 67 year-old Rubin was quickly re-hired.