Keith Staskiewicz
May 25, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The 500

Current Status
In Season
Matthew Quirk
Reagan Arthur Books
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A-

The question to ask when reading this gripping new Beltway white-knuckler isn’t ”Where have I seen this before?” but rather ”When was the last time this was done so well?” The answer to both questions is probably The Firm, John Grisham’s paranoiac thriller sine qua non, from which Quirk borrows liberally. He stops short of tort (Grisham’s a lawyer, after all) by relocating the story of a Harvard grad with a too-good-not-to-be-evil new job to the upper echelons of Washingtonian influence in The 500. Granted entry into a lobbying group less about PowerPoint presentations than power struggles, our hero soon discovers his puppet-master employers aren’t quite what they seem. Again, no surprise, but Quirk is such an expert in escalation that, like a frog in a pot of boiling water, you’ll be done before you even realize it. A-

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