Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Firm by John Grisham.
How did you enjoy reading this first section? I was hooked from the beginning. I thought the book started in an interesting way with Grisham simply describing Mitch and why he was such an attractive candidate to the firm. It made sense that the firm wanted Mitch since he seemed to be such a successful student and all around nice person, but I was immediately suspicious. Why were they so generous from the get go? The firm offers Mitch lots of incredible things including a generous salary, bonuses, a low-interest mortgage, country club memberships, and a new BMW. Which of those perks would you be most excited to receive? Later in the chapters, the firm pays his student loans as well. Can you imagine getting all that from your employer?
In this section, I was most surprised by how much Mitch worked. I could not keep up with those hours. He was like a machine. I was also shocked when he learned he got the highest score on the bar exam. Weren't you expecting him to fail since he never got time to study?
What clued you in to the fact that the firm wasn't quite what it seemed? Abby's first lunch with Kay Quin struck me as odd. Kay mentions that the firm doesn't forbid women from working outside of the home, but they don't encourage it. She also mentions that the firm encourages lawyers to have babies. It seemed strange and concerning to me that the firm was so interested in the personal lives of the lawyers. Can you imagine what an HR nightmare those conversations would be today?
I think the story took a sinister turn in chapter 3. We first hear about the wire tapping, and we realize that the firm was listening to everything the McDeeres did when they were in Memphis. Were you surprised by this reveal? What could the firm be using this audio data for? Later in the chapter, DeVasher makes a comment that "New York" is getting suspicious, and they want to "eliminate" a couple of people. Who do you think "New York" is? Why would a law firm need to kill some of its lawyers? In chapter 4, these lawyers who were mentioned in chapter 3 just happen to die in a boating accident. The accident totally wasn't an accident, right? It was a planned murder.
Mitch has no reason to be suspicious of the firm, but in chapter 9, he spends a lot of time looking at the portraits of the lawyers who have passed away. He must suspect something because he keeps their names and dates in a drawer. Why do you think he's suspicious even before he's approached by the FBI? Were you surprised when Tarrance from the FBI met him? I wasn't, but I didn't expect him to immediately notify the firm about it. I would have been scared to mention it, because it would make the firm watch me more closely. Mitch pretends he's not suspicious after hearing from the FBI, but we know differently since he hires Eddie Lomax later. When he's in Grand Cayman, he talks to Mr. Abanks about the explosion that killed the 2 lawyers. From these incidents, we can see that Mitch took the FBI seriously, even if he's not talking to them yet.
This section ends with the firm talking about the inappropriate pictures they took of Mitch and that woman on the beach. It definitely wasn't good for Mitch to have that interaction with that lady—especially since now it seems like that interaction could get him blackmailed.
Did you feel like you could picture Grand Cayman after reading Grisham's description of Mitch's trip? If Grisham's descriptions weren't enough, make sure to check out the Cayman Islands tourism website. See the Seven Mile Beach that Mitch and Avery walk on, or check out the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. And, if you really want to get a sense of the comfortable accommodations Mitch experienced, check out the Palm Heights. I think I could get comfortable and relaxed in a room like this.
Before you go to read the next section, check out the video of John Grisham below. In the video, he gives a glimpse into his office and tells about how he got his start. I always love to understand how writers start their careers, so I really enjoyed this video. You'll also get a little glimpse into the ballparks that Grisham owns. Did you know that he has fields for Little League players?
This section was chock full of interesting details, so I'm sure I missed something. Make sure to leave a comment to tell me what things I missed. And, leave any guesses you have about the firm and why the FBI would be interested in their dealings.
I hope you're able to read chapters 15–28 before checking back next week!