The Firm is easily John Grisham's most popular novel, and deservingly so. The reading is smooth and the storyline is enthralling.
It opens with young lawyer, Mitch McDeere - just out of college - looking for a law firm to start with. As he is being interviewed by the firm that eventually hires him - it appears to be a job that is too good to be true - and of course, turns out nothing like the way he hoped. In the beginning, everything appears to be working out perfectly - but as time goes on, he starts to notice some unusual characteristics about his employers - who do not seem to understand the concept of privacy. Like a good John Grisham-type character, Mitch begins to snoop around - and yes, finds out about some former employees who were "accidentally" killed.
[Spoiler Alert] By now, it is obvious that this law firm is corrupt. Unbeknownst to Mitch, the FBI had already been looking into this corruption also. In addition to having the firm under surveillance, the FBI decides to use Mitch to get them the evidence they need to indict the Firm. Unfortunately, Mitch's employers set him up in a comprising situation to use as blackmail. This puts him in a very difficult situation to assist the FBI...
Skipping straight to the end: Mitch does get the evidence he needs to take down this firm. However, as he finally is able to present it to the FBI, his employers catch on - and when they do, they are in the same building. Mitch then receives a warning phone call about this, so he does the only thing he can possibly do at this point: He runs.
If you saw the movie, this is one of the only accurate parts that is portrayed and it is visualized exactly as one who read the novel would expect. However, the similarities to the book ends right here. Once he starts running - film and novel take entirely different directions.
Getting back to the story, Mitch takes off along with his wife Abby and eventually picks up his brother, Ray. The ending will not be spoiled here, but it is well worth the wait. [End Spoiler Alert]
The Firm is able to succeed because the suspense is incredible. You are not given very much information about the firm that Mitch is working for. This leaves you constantly thinking, "Who are these people?"... Well, when you find out, you may be slightly disappointed. It's the usual plot twist in the typical Grisham novel. However, it does work well within the context of this story.
While the plot was excellent, the character development is light. Then again, being a fast moving suspense novel, this might be expected. Too much development might take away from the mystery involved.
One of the better characters in this book is the firm's Chief of Security - DeVasher. He is the man who is constantly shadowing Mitch and watching over his back in a slightly menacing way. On the other end of the spectrum, the contact from the FBI - Wayne Tarrance - was underdeveloped and another comes of as "just another" character. While Mitch McDeere - played nicely by Tom Cruise in the movie - does not jump out as a memorable character, he is a character that you do feel for - and you may get caught up in his moral dilemma that he faces. His wife Abby and bother Ray are average at best.
Most of Grisham's novels tend to be written with the same plot formula. Although the The Firm may be included in this category, it stands alone in comparison with the Grisham novels and is very much so worth the investment!