The Appeal is the latest legal thriller by John Grisham. Once again, the wealthy and powerful are preying on the poor and weak. This time, the scheme involves fixing an election for the Mississippi State Supreme Court. The short term goal is to overturn a particular jury verdict; the long term goal is to make it virtually impossible for a plaintiff to successfully sue for damages in a personal injury case.
The protagonists include a husband-wife team of attorneys, Wes and May Grace Payton. The Paytons represent a number of plaintiffs suing Krane Chemical for deaths and illnesses caused by Krane’s dumping of toxic waste, which has polluted the groundwater in Bowmore, Mississippi. As the book opens, the jury returns a $41 million verdict in the first of the cases to go to trial.
Of course Krane will appeal. But how can Krane possibly win on appeal when the State Supreme Court routinely votes 5-4 to uphold such jury verdicts? Enter Barry Rinehart, a shady operative whose business is finding, and electing, pro-business candidates for seats on appeals courts.
The concept of The Appeal is interesting. And the book is a quick and easy read. At this point, Grisham seems to be writing with half the enthusiasm of his earlier works. There is little tension, and the characters are not all that interesting or sympathetic. If you are a Grisham fan, you should read The Appeal. Otherwise, maybe buy the paperback and save it for that long airport layover.
Published in hardcover-Doubleday 2008
Softcover edition-Dell 2008