I chose to read The Street Lawyer because I was a little overwhelmed by all the fantasy and sci-fi that I’d been reading. I had an itch to read something slightly more humane and set in a real world working environment. I remembered reading John Grisham’s The Firm before on a flight, so I decided that something from Grisham’s body of work would satisfy my itch nicely. I went on Amazon and looked up all his books, The Street Lawyer stood out to me because of the summary. It gave me flashbacks of the final season of The Wire, which included a story-arch on the homeless people of Baltimore. I ordered the book on my Kindle with little to no hesitation, remembering that these spontaneous moments are what make me love being a reader.
Was I disappointed by The Street Lawyer? Not at all; the opening chapter does a fantastic job of hooking the reader, creating a tense hostage situation at a law firm known as Drake & Sweeney. A group of lawyers are held hostage by a homeless man known as “Mister”. The hostage situation ends in a messy fashion, but our protagonist Michael Brock gets out of the situation intact. The ordeal causes Michael Brock to rethink his stance on the homeless, and thus he begins to dig into the history of Mister. This leads Michael through a journey of discovery, by which he finds out that his own law firm assisted in the eviction of Mister and several other homeless.
I won’t get into what happens from then on, but the plot thickens quite nicely. What I appreciate the most about a John Grisham novel is his ability to write characters that feel so organic. You could picture a Michael Brock living somewhere in your city, because Grisham writes in his flaws and struggles so convincingly. However, the side effect to this style of writing is that there are often dull moments where Michael’s everyday life is told so accurately that you almost feel like some of it serves the story no purpose. For me, these slow moments weren’t too much of a biggie, but if you’re reading at night time on a work night it’s easy to nod off while reading about Michael Brock picking up his belongings from his old apartment.
If you read The Street Lawyer then it’s assumed that you’ll have enough understanding of John Grisham’s work to not get put off by the everyday dealings of an anti-trust lawyer going through a mid-life crisis. Therefore your expectations won’t get the better of you and you’ll be able to enjoy reading through The Street Lawyer gracefully. The Street Lawyer makes a great plane or train novel, and it should only take you a week to get through it depending on your reading pace.