The Appeal by John Grisham
|The Appeal by John Grisham|
|Reviewer: Jo Heffer|
|Summary: In a small town in Mississippi, a jury finds the Krane Chemical Corporation of causing many cases of cancer due to dumping toxic waste in the small town of Bowmore. They award millions in damages for the plaintiff Jeanette Baker, but will she ever see any of it? Krane Chemicals are going to appeal and they will stop at nothing to get the verdict overturned. It's a skilful blend of the corporate world and personal stories which ranks along with Grisham's best. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: January 2008|
I have been reading and enjoying John Grisham novels for a long time and I always like his tense stories and courtroom dramas. I was eagerly anticipating 'The Appeal', which ranks alongside some of his best.
The Appeal is set in the state of Mississippi and centres on a legal action against the Krane Chemical Corporation. The company is accused of causing many cases of cancer through illegally dumping toxic waste. One case makes it to court and the plaintiff is Jeanette Baker who is represented by her lawyers Wes and Mary Grace Paynton. The case has been painful and expensive, but the joy when the jury delivers their verdict and the award of $41 million in damages makes it all worth it. However, there is no way that the chemical company will hand over that sort of money without a fight, especially as it will open the flood gates to many more claims. They are going to appeal.
The book follows many different stories which are all skillfully interwoven. There are the townsfolk of Bowmore, each with a tragic story to tell and all hopeful that they may be able to claim some compensation too. Wes and Mary Grace Paynton are the lawyers who have risked and sacrificed everything to bring the case to court and are desperately awaiting the appeal before they are financially ruined. Carl Trudeau is the merciless owner of Krane Chemicals and he demonstrates a ruthless determination to ensure that the appeal goes his way. He has money and is prepared to spend how ever much it takes to 'buy' a judge who will overturn the verdict in his favour. That judge is Ron Fisk, who is at first flattered but cautious. He gets caught up in the glamour of a high profile campaign and before he realises it, he has been 'bought'. He starts voting to overturn large amounts of damages, but before the Krane case comes to court he is faced with a potential tragedy of his own, which causes him to question everything that he believes he stands for.
The interweaving of all these stories really made the novel work for me and I felt it was a good mixture of the bigger corporate law story and the smaller personal ones. However, the stories do tend to jump around quite a bit so you do need to be quite alert to keep up with them all. A couple of times I did have to backtrack a little to remind myself who someone was or which event was being referred to.
I found all the legal proceedings totally absorbing, and I was fascinated to read of all the devious actions and underhand dealings which Carl Trudeau's minions carried out on his behalf. I wouldn't know whether these sorts of things happen in reality, but Grisham paints a really murky picture of large corporations and their ability to manipulate political campaigns.
All of the main characters are quite believeable and I found myself caring about the more likeable ones such as the Paytons and Ron Fisk. I liked the fact that even though this book would be classed as a legal thriller, the personal details were not overlooked and the reader does get to know the characters.
The book is very well paced with lots happening as it builds towards the climax of the appeal. It is the sort of novel that you want to keep reading because you genuinely want to find out what happens next. It's tense and exciting, but never predictable. In fact it is a thoroughly absorbing read and I would definitely recommend it.
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