A late work that hadn’t caught my eye before, The Litigators brought me hurtling back into the Grisham fold. This book offers a fast-moving and painfully realistic story about mass tort litigation, along with a satisfying array of characters, and just enough laugh-out-loud moments and real-life horror stories to keep those pages turning til the end.
The story opens just as young corporate lawyer David Zinc is having a full-scale panic attack on the way to his 93rd floor cubicle where he does mind-numbing financial reviews all day and gets to bill vast fees for his firm. He never gets home to his wife before 10 at night, and she has all but given up trying to get pregnant.
He hates his job with a passion. When he dives head-first into the down elevator and spends the rest of the day drinking himself into oblivion, you know change is coming. But no one could have guessed he would end up partnering with a couple of self-hating ambulance-chasers whose “boutique” law firm is next-door to a massage parlor and who, like David, have never tried a case in their lives. One of the partners pulls the firm into a nationwide mass-tort case against a huge and dirty pharmaceutical company, and both they and their sad clients have dollar signs dancing in their eyes even while we—and a skeptical David—can already see the handwriting on the wall.
Grisham manages to paint a horrible picture of how the little people—us—can so easily get ground into chopped meat in tort cases managed by greedy law firms against equally greedy corporations. While acknowledging the need for tort cases, Grisham exposes the dirty underbelly of the tort system as it currently exists. He parades through the courts all the so-called “experts”—doctors, scientists, specialist of all sorts—who sell their bought-and-paid-for court testimony without a twinge of conscience; we watch in action the high-powered attorney teams who can yield virtually unlimited resources to get the verdicts they want; we see the jurors—the heart of our justice system—picked over, intimidated, and shamelessly manipulated.
Grisham, a product liability lawyer himself for many years, is clearly in his element in this book, and it shows in his writing style—bright, fast-paced and delightful—and in his colorful characters. A winner.