When I decided to read John Grisham books in order, The Firm was at the top of the list. Honestly, I have seen so many reviews and discussions on this book that not reading it first would be a crime.
So, did I like it? Dude, I loved it.
The Firm book is a complete package. It has the suspense, the thrill, the hustle of life, and a fair share of adventure. Don’t worry. The plot does not fall flat. Grisham had made the entire story more interesting by adding juicy romance and family drama.
Frankly speaking, Grisham has pulled off The Firm book plot ALMOST successfully. Yes, ALMOST. The story has major plot holes, and some characters are sheer disappointments. How dare I say that?
Oh please! Just keep reading. I am sure you will agree with my review and character analysis of The Firm.
And the movie geeks! I have a surprise for you, too. I have added The Firm book vs. movie section in the back row of this article. Is the movie good? You will find out soon.
My Take on The Firm Novel: A Story That Suits Everyone’s Taste
When I said The Firm book suits every reader’s style, I meant it. Grisham boldly avoided any poetic or literary language in this novel. So even a 5th grader can finish this book without missing a thing (Though I don’t recommend this novel to children. There is adult stuff hidden in the plot).
Of course, I cannot complain about Grisham’s narration. He had maintained his lively, colorful, informative delivery and writing style with The Firm, too.
Okay, enough of these diplomatic praises. Let’s get brutal. Here is my honest review of The Firm book.
Things That Bothered Me
I devour books like a tasty meal. Yet, it took me 3 days to finish The Firm book, and I blame Grisham. He has dragged the story intentionally on some pages, which bored me out of my mind.
For example, I get that Bendini, Lambert & Locke firm is so great and all. But their generosity seems so exaggerated at many points.
Again, on many occasions, Grisham has meticulously elaborated on Mitch’s surroundings and his thinking. Unfortunately, most of those descriptions have added no real value to the main plot. Total waste of those pages (in my opinion).
And if finally, I am ranting, I have one more complaint (Promise! This is last). The story buildup was relatively slow. Grisham took over 100 pages before he gave us a kick.
Of course, you can smell something fishy with Bendini, Lambert & Locke from the beginning. But you get no real reason to doubt them until Mitch is dragged into the whole rat race.
I suppose Grisham could have taken the authority and dropped some suspense bombs from the start. That would be quite a hook.
Now you know why I prefer Pelican Brief true story, Grisham’s second book to this one.
Oh, Grisham! You Deserve Total Appreciation for For This
Don’t give me that look. I know I said I love The Firm book. Trust me, I do. But it doesn’t mean I cannot point out my disappointments.
Okay! Let me compensate for the rantings. So, what do I like about this novel? Obviously, the PLOT.
I think this is one of the masterpieces John Grisham has created. This does not stand for The Firm when you can predict most of his novel endings. The author has brought the twists and turns at his own pace.
To be really honest, I kind of knew in the end that our protagonist, Mitch, would get a win (That’s a typical Grisham move).
But how would Mitch manage to play the FBI, a hired killer, and the mafia at the same time? That was way above my imagination. I believe Grisham has definitely shown some creativity there. Clap! Clap!
The Firm Book Summary: Red Alert! Spoilers Ahead!
Ah…! Where should I start? Why not break down the story into several parts for your convenience?
Just The Start: Mitch Is Having Butterflies in His Tummy
The story starts with a lavish interview. Partners of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a not-so-known law firm in Memphis, are interviewing a new face, or the only candidate, Mitchell McDeere.
It is very clear from the beginning that the firm book is very picky about its employees and takes a great interest in them. Otherwise, tailing an ex-FBI agent to dig down the life history of the recruit will make no sense.
Mitchell McDeere, our protagonist, is a fresh law graduate hungry for money. No, don’t take me wrong. Mitch wants to earn enough for himself and his lovely wife, Abby.
So, when he hears an 80K dollars+ bonus package with a BMW and a low-interest rate house mortgage, he is all in the business. The firm also promises that he will clear his education loan and be a partner in 10 years. More reasons to take the job.
Soon, Mitch and Abby move to Memphis. While the Bendini, Lambert & Locke culture keeps surprising Mitch (in a good way), Abby is up for decorating their new home. It seems the couple is living their dreams.
But for how long?
Here Comes the Doubt
Well, well, well! Our hero and his wife haven’t thought twice before jumping on this new journey. But bro! How can a company be so good? There has to be something shady! Use some brain the next time, Mitch.
Mitch is a workaholic, and he is working 16 hours a day. He has nailed his bar exam and every case coming his way. What can I say? Mitch is loving his days in Bendini, Lambert & Locke.
But the accidental death of two co-workers, Marty Kozinski and Joe Hodge, shocked him. Even though Mitch puts no thought into this, he gets scared when an FBI agent, Tarrance, approaches him.
Tarrance warns Mitch about his firm and tells him something fishy is happening there.
According to him, Bendini, Lambert & Locke is a mafia-owned firm that legitimizes the underworld goons’ black money. In fact, the firm has staged the deaths of Marty, Joe and 3 other lawyers in the past years.
Our boy, Mitch, is too reluctant to accept this idea. But come on! He is not dumb. Mitch hires an investigator to clear his doubt. Now, he is sure his firm is not a sacred place after all.
It’s Time to Cut a Deal
Let’s face it. Mitch is no epitome of morality. Yet, he decides to take sides with the FBI for his survival. He cuts a deal with these big boys, 2 million dollars and his brother, Ray (who is in prison).
The FBI does some nagging but agrees with Mitch in the end. They have no other options. In return, the FBI wants files and documents as proof of the illegal activities of the firm book and its connection to the mafia family.
So, Mitch assembles his team of 3, himself, Abby and Tammy (secretary of the prior investigator I’ve mentioned) for the mission. Why is Tammy suddenly working with Mitch?
Well, money, revenge (The mafia killed the investigator after his encounter with Mitch), and other reasons (Read the book if you are interested).
How To Steal the Secret 101
Isn’t Mitch a genius? He has solidly planned to bring the dirty papers out of the office. Let it be the briefcase exchange with Tammy or using the office copier to make photocopies. Mitch has proved again and again that he has some guts.
I almost got a heart attack when Tammy slept with Avery Toler in the Cayman just to access the receipts and documents. They were this close to getting caught. But Mitch, Abby, and Tammy have successfully pulled off their plans.
This team of 3 has 1 million in the bank, 10,000 documents proving the shady business of Morolto, and FBI support. Not to mention that Ray is released from prison, too. Seems like team Mitch is scoring back-to-back. But not for long!
What’s Going on in The Background?
The guys at Bendini, Lambert & Locke are not naive. They have bugged and wired Mitch and Abby’s car, house, office, and whatnot. It is not just with Mitch.
The firm book is on the throats of all the lawyers, associates, and partners. What else can you expect from a firm that investigates employee background with ex-FBI agents?
DeVasher controls Bendini, Lambert & Locke’s security and takes orders from the Morolto mafia. He recruits people to keep an eye on Mitch.
Soon, he finds out that our hero has been talking to the big guys and has collected a fair share of the firm’s dirty documents.
So, DeVasher plans the perfect murder of Mitch to get him out of the way.
The Final Game
What do we know by now? Ray is released. Team Mitch has 1 million dollars, tons of documents, and a killer on the leash.
Remember Tarrance? He warns Mitch about Devasher and his plans. Tarrance suggests that Mitch and his alliances should turn into FBI custody and bring the documents.
What would you do if you were in this position? Of course, you would listen to the FBI. But our boy Mitch decides to do things his way. He runs away alone and keeps updating Abby, Ray, and Tammy about their tasks.
Good Lord! The mafia is already on his throat, and now the FBI. I doubt that Mitch has the brain of a 3rd grader.
On some pages, I was holding my breath. They were so close to getting busted. But every time Ray or Mitch manages an escape.
Finally, as the time is right, Mitch makes a video revealing all the documents of the mafia family and the firm. He then asks Tarrance to keep his end of the bargain and take the papers away.
With the money and freedom, Tammy sorts out her life. Mitch, Abby, and Ray find a distant island in Cayman and enjoy their wealth.
What happens to Bendini, Lambert & Locke? Apparently, the FBI has taken care of them. All 51 employees and over 30 members of the mob family are prosecuted for their crimes. So, it was the end for the firm, too.
The Firm Book Characters Analyzed: I Can’t Get Over The Guys
Grisham has done an excellent job of building up every character. He has created each personality from scratch and assigned a different shade to each of them.
I think this is one of the reasons you will not feel bored when reading this novel. Let me share my thoughts on some of the important characters from this book.
Mitch McDeere: The Mastermind
Our protagonist, Mitch McDeere, is an all-rounder. He has managed to top his class while working part-time for money and playing soccer for passion. His girl has been with him since college, and now they are married.
What a fairy tale life Mitch has!
Honestly, there are not many points where you can actually complain about Mitch. He is a hustler and workoholic for sure. Otherwise, who would work 16 hours daily and still ace the bar exam?
Mitch cares for Abby, his wife and worries about his brother, Ray. He is emotional about his mother, too. A family man indeed.
Yes, there is a time when Mitch gets too deep in work and literally ignores Abby. And how can I forget the time when Mitch sleeps with another woman?
Even after everything, Mitch and Abby are perfect. Mitch loves her no matter what.
You can imagine their romance from these lines,” You’re beautiful,” he (Mitch) said. “When was the last time I told you that you are beautiful?” “About two hours ago.” “Two hours! How thoughtless of me!” “Don’t let it happen again.”
When the entire mafia thing breaks out, Mitch keeps calm and takes care of his close ones first. From my point of view, Mitch is a rational but emotional character.
He knows his priorities and how to manage any situation with a cold head. If that is not a quality of a hero, then I do not know what is.
Abby McDeere: The Woman of Today
As far as I know, Mitch wouldn’t marry an idiot. Guess what? I am right.
Abby is a wonderful woman who has a personality of her own. She does not want to get bossed around and prefers to be independent.
In a conversation with Kay, Abby says, “I don’t want anyone telling me when to work and when to quit and when to have children.” So, I hope that portraying Abby as the face of women empowerment will not be a sin.
What else? Abby is supportive for sure. She stands beside Mitch no matter what. Who else will steal illegal documents just to favor her husband?
Tammy Hemphill The Secretary I Want
Even though we get introduced to Tammy via Eddie’s character (the investigator), she steals the show later. Her boldness and wit are truely commendable.
Of course, she shakes hands with Mitch for the money and revenge. But soon, it becomes clear that Tammy is in the game, and she is enjoying every bit of it.
Honestly, I think Tammy could have used more exposure (take my feedback, Grisham!). She has played the most important role in the book. Without her, Mitch would not have managed to collect the necessary papers.
I personally appreciate Tammy. Yes, her lousy marriage pains me. I hope Grisham has planned something wonderful for her in the sequel of The Firm book.
Ray McDeere: The Mix of Good & Bad
Umm..I like Ray. But let’s just say he is okayish only.
He has a brilliant mind that you cannot ignore. And his reflexes are quite impressive, too. I guess Mitch has got the brain from the family. It is in the McDeere genes.
Ray has stood up for Mitch and Abby whenever necessary. I cannot thank him enough to save Abby multiple times.
Of course, Ray has an aggressive trait. He can kill people without twitching. Still, I cannot hate him. I think he is one of the good kind of bad boys.
The Firm Guys
What can I say about those partners and associates from Bendini, Lambert & Locke? In my opinion, each of them is pretentious. After knowing the truth, I couldn’t tolerate Oliver Lambert, Royce McKnight, and Nathan Locke even for a single second.
Yes, Avary Toler seems different from them. But he is a womanizer and dirty, too.
Finally, let me talk about DeVasher. This little bastard is the mastermind of the bad guys. Though he pretends that he takes orders from the Morolto family, in reality, he is the one who suggests creepy stuff.
But you have to praise DeVasher anyway. Admit that he is just doing his job and he is nailing it. He has managed to keep the pieces together for so long. Of course, I give him the credit. He is in charge of the security after all. Well done, DeVasher! You will make a great villain, indeed.
The Firm Movie: What’s Going on Here?
I will be honest. 90% of the book-adapted movies have disappointed me. So, I started watching The Firm movie with zero expectations.
Ah! Who am I lying to? Of course, I had some expectations. My boy Tom Cruise is playing Mitch, after all. Not to mention, the casting of Ed Harris as Agent Wayne Tarrance and Gene Hackman as Avery Tolar is just perfect.
Enough fangirling! Let’s get back to the business.
If I had to describe the movie in one word, it would be “Rushed.” Remember when I ranted that Grisham had wasted pages with unnecessary descriptions? Now I feel sorry for saying those words. The movie has skipped pages after pages after pages.
Well, what else can you expect? They have fitted a bulky novel into a 2-hour 40-minute movie.
The director has left the beginning of the book. Yes, the butterfly period. So, you will not catch Mitch getting involved in work or building those relationships. Also, the movie misses out the lavish interview that sets the novel’s mood.
But I think these things are common in book-adapted movies. So, I focused on the story buildup now and there! I saw another flaw. The characters are acting differently, especially Avary. He is sympathetic, and his bond with Mitch is on another level (I loved this bit).
Hey! The characters are not the only things that have changed. Our director and producers have decided to make everyone do different tasks.
For starters, the FBI is too active and bosses around Mitch. But in the novel, Mitch is the little mastermind. Abby and Tammy’s role in the big plan is shadowed by the triangle drama between Mitch, the FBI, and the mafia.
These turns and twists would be enjoyable (maybe) if I hadn’t read the novel first.
At this point, I was literally pissed (the fangirling moment was gone!). The audacity of the scriptwriter, man! He has changed the ending, too.
Mitch now finds a way to satisfy the FBI and the mob family without bringing his skin into the game. Yes, he does not break the lawyer-client privileges and delivers all the papers to the feds. Smart! Huh?
So, is the movie a better version of the book? Ummm.. no?
See, the cast acted great, and the director tried his best to simplify the complex plots. He succeeded to a degree; I admit that. His character development was on point and maybe the movie pace is okay, too.
But as I had read the book earlier and constantly compared the novel with the film, it really put me off. I think this is why The Firm movie is not a mega-hit.
Do I suggest the film? Sure, go ahead (especially if you haven’t read the book yet). Just do not compare the novel with the film. Otherwise, you will be disappointed like me.
Do I Recommend The Firm?
Should you read The Firm book? Definitely! As I said, it is one of Grisham’s best creations. I wouldn’t call it a legal drama. The Firm is more of a thriller book, a chase story.
And as always, Grisham’s delivery is just on point. He has described the scam and the loop in the simplest way possible. So you will not feel left out on any page.
Who is this book for? Everyone! Trust me! You will experience an emotional surge and at the same time, you will feel the suspense. There is killing, betrayl, the power game, and whatnot.
The Firm book is an entertainment bomb for readers. I have given up only a little in this article. There is a lot more going on in the original plot. So, trust your buddy and just read the book.
However, if you are too lazy to finish this bulky novel, just watch the film. Yes, there are some major differences. But you will get the taste anyway.