Under normal circumstances, I’d be embarrassed by coming out with a Grisham right out of the gate. However, I’m coming off of a vacation, and Grisham is my go-to guy for brainless fun. I’m not so sure the The Appeal is one of Grisham’s best.
I recently watched the documentary, Hot Coffee, and this novel was mentioned when talking about the lengths that interest groups undertake to fix elections of state judges. The novel follows a lawsuit by two tired, idealistic underdog lawyers (it wouldn’t be a Grisham novel without a flat, stereotypical character in the main role) who just won a 41 million dollar lawsuit against a big, bad chemical company after they systematically dumped poison in a local water supply. The company’s main investor is angry, and he begins the process of replacing a judge with one of his own so that he can win the appeal. The novel focuses on the appeal as well as the campaign to put in Ron Fisk, a conservative lawyer sympathetic to tort reform, in the Mississippi Supreme Court.
For a Grisham novel, this is the usual fare with one exception: it is especially lop-sided. The business-minded folks are all evil; the conservatives are corrupt; the Bible-believing minister is a shyster. Of course, all three hate gay people. On the other side, the liberal lawyers are saints; the liberal minister in town is Father Theresa; the judge on the way out is far and good. It is just too much to deal with for a lackluster novel. While there is much about these issues in this novel that I can agree with, but all the characters are such caricatures of nobody who really exists, even in Grisham’s universe.
I’m done with John Grisham…until next vacation.