Book Review – The Appeal by John Grisham
In a crowded courtroom in Mississippi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town’s water supply, causing the worst “cancer cluster” in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it.
Who are the nine? How will they vote? Can one be replaced before the case is ultimately decided?
The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court. The cost is a few million dollars, a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Mr. Trudeau. Through an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit, his political operatives recruit a young, unsuspecting candidate. They finance him, manipulate him, market him, and mold him into a potential Supreme Court justice. Their Supreme Court justice.
The Appeal was such a disappointment for me. Did John Grisham always write this badly? The novel did start off with a bang – with a $41-million verdict for the good guys – but then it quickly ran out of steam and just limped along for the rest of the story.
Mr Grisham’s main point for this book is that “evil business” has corrupted our judicial (and electoral) systems. So important is this message that he then browbeats us with this lesson, helped along by unbelievable one-dimensional cookie-cutter characters, ie. the heroes – the cancer victims & their perfect self-sacrificing lawyers (the Paytons) & the “good” justices versus the evil CEO (Mr. Trudeau) & his henchmen & the super naive Supreme Court justice candidate. Honestly, the characters are so badly written, I found myself pulling for the evil CEO simply because at least his schemes were interesting!
I’m thinking next time, I’ll first borrow a Grisham book from the library before deciding whether I’ll buy a copy.
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