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A Mississippi jury returns a $41-million verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping carcinogenic waste into a small town's water supply. The company's ruthless billionaire CEO is thwarted and the good guys (a courageous young woman who lost her husband and child and her two lawyers who've gone half a million dollars in debt preparing her case) receives its just reward. This sounds like the end of a Grisham legal thriller, but instead it's the beginning of a book-length lesson in how greed and big business have corrupted our electoral and judicial systems. Grisham's characters are over-the-top. The CEO and the other equally overdone villains—his venal trophy wife, a self-serving senator and a pair of smarmy political fixers—as well as the unbelievably good-hearted, self-sacrificing lawyers and an honorable state judge, are one dimensional. Michael Beck, with his natural Southern drawl, does a fine job of adding credibility and nuance to the large cast. But his efforts are for naught. In fact, the more he makes us feel for these characters, the less apt we are to be satisfied with the sourball moral of Grisham's downbeat discourse.
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Praise for The Appeal:
“Building a remarkable degree of suspense…Grisham delivers his savviest book in years. His extended vacation from hard–hitting fiction is over.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“A novel that could become its own era–defining classic. John Grisham holds up that same mirror to our age as Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.”—The Boston Globe
“Chilling and timeless.”—The Washington Post
“An intricately detailed, involving story…the ending may surprise you.”—People
“Stirring popular fiction that doubles as an important public–service announcement.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Packs a wallop…The timing, in the midst of all the presidential primaries, makes it all the more compelling.”–USA Today
“Fascinating…filled with deadly accurate characterizations by and author who knows both the law and politics from the inside.”–Los Angeles Times
“A clever story and thoughtful plot…Grisham confronts in stark relief the dangers of electing judges in an era of big–money politics.”—Seattle Times–Post Intelligencer
From the Hardcover edition.
Our world is now full of mass media, soundbites, and 24-hour news cycles. It's not hard for those with money to dominate an election, through legitimate and shady means. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2010 by nametakentwice
I am officially taking Grisham off my list of authors to read. He has not written a book (this one included) with anything resembling the depth of his 90's releases this decade... Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2009 by JM
I thought this was more like the original Grisham style, and hung on right to the end, expecting that the "innocent little guy" would win out at the end over Big Corporation - but... Read morePublished on March 19 2009 by Book Boss
A Civil Action type story, this one is no whodunit but rather a howdunit story with a few messages: elected State Supreme Court positions are open to abuse, the Christian rightwing... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2009 by Pol Sixe
I am also a die-hard Grisham fan and own paperwork copies of all his novels. While I didn't like "The Appeal" I still appreciate his captivating rhythm and vivid characters... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2009 by R. Rayson