The Exchange by John Grisham

Series: The Firm, book 2
Description: In this explosive sequel to The Firm, Mitch, a partner at the largest law firm in the world, is asked for a favor by a mentor in Rome that plunges him into a sinister plot that has global implications and once against places everyone he holds dear in danger.
Genre: Thrillers and suspense; Legal thrillers
Pace: Fast-paced
Tone: Suspenseful

Booklist: Remember Mitch McDeere? In 1991’s The  Firm, the novel that made Grisham a literary superstar, McDeere and his wife, Abby, brought down a Memphis law firm and sent several people to prison. Now, 15 years later (many of them spent in hiding), Mitch and Abby are settled comfortably in Manhattan, where Mitch is a partner at a major law firm. A request from a client in Italy plunges Mitch into another complex plot that puts his life, and his wife’s, at risk.

This novel has all the makings of a top-flight thriller, as one expects from Grisham, yet, something feels off. Unusually for the author, the story takes a long time to get moving. There’s a lengthy setup, including a detour back to Memphis that seems to exist only to reveal what happened to Mitch immediately after the events of The  Firm, and the writing feels lethargic. Devoted Grisham fans will want to read this, but casual readers may well give it a miss. A serviceable but disappointing offering from a usually excellent storyteller.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Grisham’s a crime-fiction favorite and this return to a key character will bring in the fans. — David Pitt (Reviewed 9/15/2023) (Booklist, vol 120, number 2, p18)

Publishers Weekly: Grisham’s disappointing sequel to The  Firm, set 15 years after the events of that 1991 blockbuster, isn’t worth the three-decade wait. After extricating himself from a Tennessee law firm run by the mob, Mitch McDeere has begun a new life in New York City with his wife, Abby. Mitch has become a partner at Scully & Pershing, “the premier international firm on the planet,” allowing him and Abby to enjoy a comfortable existence on the Upper West Side with their eight-year-old twin boys. That stability gets shaken when Mitch is sent to Libya to represent Lannak, a Turkish construction company that’s been stiffed hundreds of millions of dollars by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Despite extensive security precautions, Mitch’s team comes under attack by Libyan forces; the fallout claims multiple lives, puts the McDeeres twins in peril, and nudges Abby to abandon her post as a cookbook editor to try and save her husband.

Grisham conjures some suspense, but nothing here deepens or complicates his original characterizations—it often feels like a somewhat loopy standard-issue legal thriller has been papered over with characters from The Firm. It’s a letdown. –Staff (Reviewed 08/21/2023) (Publishers Weekly, vol 270, issue 34, p)