Title – Ford County
Author – John Grisham
Published – 2009
Genre – Legal
Ford County is the setting for a number of Grisham’s trademark legal thrillers, including A Time to Kill, and in this case provides the location for a series of short stories.
Following quickly on the heels of 20th Century Ghosts this was another disappointing collection of short stories. I had expected that because the stories shared the same setting that they would have something in common – a location, a character or similar thread providing a connection, but no. In fact the setting didn’t seem particularly important and if they had been set in a number of different locations I’m not sure it would have made any difference.
The stories themselves were based around a legal premise although not all involved lawyers but for the most part they seemed to lack much in thrills, or legal twists. At best focussing on the characters in the stories and often delivering a moral message these weren’t engaging and I felt as if they were working towards some sort of climax but they failed to carry through.
Not a collection I would recommend.
Title – The Defence
Author – Steve Cavanagh
Published – March 15
Genre – Legal / Thriller
Eddie Flynn is an ‘ex’ – he’s an ex-husband, an ex-con artist and and ex-lawyer. The man pointing the gun at him in the gripping opening doesn’t seem to be aware of any of this. He wants Flynn to get a bomb into a courtroom on the pretext of defending his boss (Olek Volchek, the head of the Russian mafia in New York) on a murder charge. As if the gun and the bomb weren’t enough (not to mention the ex-partner!) they’re holding his ten year-old daughter hostage.
It’s a thrilling opening. He has to defend Volchek on a murder charge in court on the day he is ‘persuaded’ to become a human bomb and the clock is ticking – he only has forty eight hours before the bomb explodes and the Russians leave him to his fate. As Flynn starts by complying with the kidnapper’s demands he draws on the skills he used in the past when he was lawyer and before that a con artist. He’s determined not to let any harm come to his daughter and is prepared to do anything in order to protect her.
The first person helps to draw the reader in and Flynn is a likeable character, I could see something of the TV character MacGyver in him. Although the plot flies along, the pace was interrupted by backstory and it sometimes felt as if Cavanagh was trying to cram all his brilliant ideas for scams in to the one story.
I can see the appeal in the unusual mix of legal/thriller/scam but the combination was too much for me. Thank you to the publisher for the netgalley. You can see another point of view on Raven’s blog.
Title – The Associate
Author – John Grisham
Published – 2009
Genre – Legal thriller
It seems like a long time since I’ve read anything by Grisham – the fact that this was published in 2009 tells me that it’s at least four years. Despite that, it all felt very familiar – brilliant legal student Kyle McAvoy has a secret that catches up with him and he becomes embroiled in a world of espionage. Forced to change his plans from working in legal aid helping migrant workers he has no choice but to take a job as an associate working in New York for the largest law firm in the world. I was pleased when it became clear that Kyle wasn’t going to accept the situation and just wait out events, and the bulk of the story is about his efforts to outwit those who have seemingly trapped him.
This is more about spying than it is a courtroom drama but there’s plenty of legal flavour as Kyle gets to grips with his new role. The picture Grisham paints of the dreadful hours and hard work of these lowly “grunts” made me tired just reading it, but a reminder of the ridiculous money involved and the promise of the $$ they can earn as partners does make the sympathy evaporate quite quickly. As ever Grisham’s writing makes an effortless read with plenty of tension and this is ideal beach reading for me (too bad we don’t have the weather for it).
I have seen some reviews that criticise the ending, but whilst it’s actually the sort of end I might be disappointed by I thought the tension kept up until the last page and I was happy with the conclusion of the story.
Score – 4/5