Kyle McAvoy is a promising young law student about to graduate from Yale. Editor-in-chief of the law journal, he hopes to perform some public interest law before caving into the lure of money promised in the high-pressure environment of tedious corporate law. This hope crumbles when he begins to be blackmailed by some high-class operatives with a video of his frat boy days, which pinpoints him as a possible accessory to a rape crime that could negatively affect his future employment prospects. What is even worse is that the video includes three of his friends from his frat boy days at Duquesne University prior to attending Yale. He is astonished when demanded he pass on information about some confidential case files between two big warring clients in the military aircraft industry by spying on the firm that he’s expecting to be employed at in the future and about how much information they already possess that should not have been known at all. Foolishly he decides to go along with the plan without consulting his lawyer father, a distinguished public interest law advocate who could have advised him about the right path to take and resolved his problem immediately.
This double agent ploy, which he is forced to play along with, quickly becomes complicated as he is asked to be involved in the case he specifically requested to avoid. He has to live an isolated lifestyle although a romance starts to bloom with a former mathematician, who is both a colleague and an associate. He realises that his home has been bugged with secret surveillance devices in advance, that he is regularly tailed and has to keep alert at all times to pull one up over his expert blackmailers. Luckily he keeps composites of those who shadow him and before he is about to violate any law ethics, he engages a lawyer for himself who entrusts the FBI to look into the issue. He also confesses the secret he has been hiding to his dad after one of his friends, who finally went clean after being a severe drug addict, also involved in the tape meets a grisly end. His father works out a solution for the tape problem while he has to deal with the consequences of being duped by the blackmailers into doing their dirty work and this time play double agent for the FBI.
The ending though is unexpected and feels unresolved. Perhaps it is to leave room for a sequel but it seems unlikely. We have been fed hints as to who the culprit behind the issue is but we finish reading with no solid conclusion except for a guess. All I can say is if you liked The Firm by this author, The Associate is recommended reading as it is another similar legal thriller.