(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Drawing upon his experiences as a native of the Deep South and as a lawyer, John Grisham created in The Firm a chase and suspense adventure involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Mafia, and a young attorney coming to terms with the reality of life in the world of big business and big money.

The Firm is divided into forty-one short chapters. It is written from the third-person point of view, principally from the perspective of Mitchell McDeere; parts of the book are told from the viewpoints of other characters.

When Mitchell McDeere completes Harvard University Law School in the top five of three hundred graduates, he is much in demand, but no offer matches that of the firm of Bendini, Lambert, and Locke in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to a starting salary of eighty thousand dollars a year, he is assured payment of his student loans, an expensive automobile, a low-interest home loan, and incredible perks for good work. When Mitchell and his wife Abby settle in their new house in Memphis, he is caught up at once in preparing for the state bar exam, which he passes a few months later with the highest score in the state.

Soon Mitchell is working twelve or more hours a day, and his home life suffers. The senior members of the firm are pleased, however, and his career seems well on its way to success, for he does not know the dangerous secret the senior partners are hiding from him and other young lawyers. The firm is a front for the Morolto Mafia family in Chicago and is involved in tax frauds and other illegal operations involving millions of dollars.

Satisfied with the firm despite the long hours, Mitchell is shocked when he is approached in a downtown restaurant by FBI agent Wayne Tarrance and told of the firm’s illegal activities and Mafia connections. Several deaths of younger firm members in recent years were in fact murders, not accidents and suicides as had been reported. Tarrance endeavors to recruit Mitchell in a plan to expose the firm.

At first reluctant, even frightened, by such a dangerous scheme, Mitchell begins to become disillusioned when he discovers that both his car and his house have...

(The entire section is 899 words.)