BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Exchange’ by John Grisham

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“The Exchange” is John Grisham’s latest novel. It is advertised as a sequel to “The Firm” that was published in 1991, but it reads more like a standalone novel.

“The Exchange” takes place 15 years later with Mitch and Abby McDeere living in New York City with their twin boys, Carter and Clark. Abby is now a cookbook editor and Mitch is partner in the world’s largest law firm, Scully and Pershing. Mitch has been handling pro bono death row cases lately. He is assigned a case in Memphis. Even though he and Abby have vowed to never return to Memphis, he reluctantly returns. After arriving, Mitch receives word that his client has hung himself in his prison cell. This frees Mitch up to travel to a nearby town to visit his best friend, Lamar Quinn, from Bendini, Lambert & Locke (his Memphis Law Firm). Grisham takes this opportunity to update the reader about Mitch and Abby’s past 15 years.  

Mitch has a reputation for rescuing clients in distress. He has traveled the globe assisting clients in need of his expertise. After Mitch returns to New York City, his mentor, Luca Sandroni, asks him for a favor. Luca wants Mitch to meet him in Rome to discuss a case. Luca wants Mitch to file a lawsuit against Muammar Gaddafi for nonpayment of a construction project. And Luca wants Mitch to include his daughter, Giovanna, on the case. Mitch and Giovanna head to Libya where they are supposed to travel with armed bodyguards, but the trip does not turn out as they planned. Soon, Mitch finds himself in a sinister plot that endangers himself, his friends, colleagues and family.   

You will not find any courtroom drama in “The Exchange.” Grisham’s previous books have been legal thrillers; this is more of an action crime thriller. Also, Grisham’s books are typically set in the South. “The Exchange” is set in New York and Europe and the Middle East. In my opinion, this is not Grisham’s best work. But many of his readers have enjoyed the novel.

John Grisham is the author of 47 consecutive no. 1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly 50 languages. His recent books include “The Judge’s List,” “Sooley” and his third Jake Brigance novel, “A Time for Mercy,” which is being developed by HBO as a limited series. Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction. When he’s not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system. John lives on a farm in central Virginia. (www.jgrisham.com)

Cathy Lay Mayor grew up in Cullman and graduated from Cullman High School in 1976. She says when she writes book reviews, she tries to remember what Mrs. Gilbert taught her in 11th-grade English. She lived in Dothan for more than 30 years and is married with three adult children and six grandchildren. She retired to Panama City, but still calls Alabama home.