The Exchange by John Grisham
Fiction | Mystery | Legal Thriller
The Firm is one of my favorite Grisham novels. When news hit that we were expecting a sequel to the bestselling story, I immediately headed to NetGalley to see if I could grab an advance copy. Grisham is an auto-buy author for me, but I’ll always remain partial to his earlier work, and I was curious to see if The Exchange would live up to my nostalgia. And while this follow-up doesn’t quite capture the magic of The Firm, it does offer a blend of the new and the old that felt both comforting and refreshing for this long-time Grisham fan.
In The Exchange, we once again find ourselves in the world of familiar characters — Mitch and Abby McDeere. The book is set fifteen years after the final chapter of The Firm, and the couple are now living in New York City with their twin boys; Abby working for a publisher of cookbooks, and Mitch for a large, global law firm.
Grisham is well known for his legal thrillers. And while it’s natural for an author to explore new stories, some of his more recent books have taken on a different shape. So, I was curious to see where The Exchange (a sequel to one of his most famous legal thrillers) would take us. The opening chapters had me momentarily concerned, as the plot felt very similar to past work. However, the book then took a massive detour (which makes me question why those initial pages were there at all) and instead of a death row case, Mitch spends the rest of 350 pages bouncing around between Libya, Rome, England, and the States to help release a kidnapped lawyer.
While there’s no real courtroom drama within this story, I loved how Grisham once again set the story within an impressively large law firm. This had all the reminiscence of his early work, yet, managed to give us a brand new type of story and plot.
When Mitch’s co-worker is kidnapped, Mitch takes it upon himself to help collect the necessary payment for the ransom demand. The writing is typical Grisham: straightforward and easy to read, with several character perspectives and an omniscient-type narrator. While I wouldn’t classify this book as “fast-paced,” as a long-time fan of the author, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in this world again.
Overall, I have a feeling this book may be a bit hit or miss for readers. The ending was abrupt, there are definitely still some unanswered questions, and Mitch’s character needed more depth / to be connected to The Firm more. While I think it would have worked better as a standalone with new characters, this was a plot-driven novel with enough action to keep me hooked. At the end of the day, my nostalgia and love for this author’s work were enough to make this an enjoyable, four-star read.
Fans of legal fiction
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance e-copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Doubleday Books and NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) #1 New York Times bestselling author John Grisham delivers high-flying international suspense in a stunning new legal thriller that marks the return of Mitch McDeere, the brilliant hero of The Firm.
What became of Mitch and Abby McDeere after they exposed the crimes of Memphis law firm Bendini, Lambert & Locke and fled the country? The answer is in The Exchange, the riveting sequel to The Firm, the blockbuster thriller that launched the career of America’s favorite storyteller. It is now fifteen years later, and Mitch and Abby are living in Manhattan, where Mitch is a partner at the largest law firm in the world. When a mentor in Rome asks him for a favor that will take him far from home, Mitch finds himself at the center of a sinister plot that has worldwide implications—and once again endangers his colleagues, friends, and family. Mitch has become a master at staying one step ahead of his adversaries, but this time there’s nowhere to hide.