John Grisham's "The Partner" is a suspense-thriller that follows the story of Patrick Lanigan. Like most of Grisham's books, the storyline navigates the murky waters of the justice system in the southern United States. The main character is a smooth operator who talks his way through his struggles with cunning grace and poise, but learns a valuable lesson in the end.
Lanigan is a successful junior partner for his law firm. Despite his business success, he is unhappy in his marriage with his wife Trudy. He knows that Trudy is having an affair. To top it off, he finds out the other associates at the law firm plan on extorting the U.S. government out of copious amounts of money while excluding him from the deal. Patrick is a cunning man, though, and soon hatches a plan to free himself from his current lifestyle.
Patrick finds his way out after his associates defraud the federal government for a large amount of money. Using his cunning, he steals the body of a deceased client and stages a fake car crash to make it look as though he has died. The life insurance company and police buy the scenario, so he proceeds to transfer $90 million from his law firm's account. He takes the money and heads to South America where he can start over in relative anonymity with his riches. It isn't long before the associates at the firm notice the theft and come to the conclusion that Patrick is still alive. They hire a ruthless private investigator named Stephano to track him down, which occurs four years after Patrick assumes the new identity.
The Conflict and Conclusion
Once the private investigator verifies that Patrick is still alive, Lanigan's life takes a turn for the worse. Stephano's thugs kidnap and torture Patrick in the hopes of finding the stolen money, but Patrick can't provide them with an answer. After failing to extract the information, the thugs hand Patrick over to the FBI, where is faces heavy legal charges, including murder and fraud. Patrick systematically clears himself of each charge, though. He proves that the body in his car was dead before the staged collision, promises to pay the government back the stolen $90 million and demonstrates his wife has no claim to his money by proving her infidelity during their marriage. He makes plans to reunite with his Brazilian lover once he clears his name, but he receives an unexpected surprise.
John Grisham's "The Partner" takes a decidedly sinister turn near the end, but it also has dark overtones throughout the entire book. The story despairs of the possibility of happy personal relationships. Characters suffer huge betrayals from family members and romantic partners. The only relationships that work out in the end are superficial business relationships based more on mutual resentment mingled with respect. Even in the professional world of "The Partner" life has its strife, though, as businesses fight tooth and nail for monetary gain. The overtones of the book suggest that the world thrives on greed and suffering.
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