Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Columbia Walmart Supercenter
Open 24 Hours
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Tom Chaney: John Grisham - back on track
Of Writers and their Books: John Grisham -- back on track is a review of The Appeal. This column first appeared 17 February 2008
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Sue Grafton at "T"
By Tom Chaney
John Grisham -- back on track
My favorite writer of legal thrillers is home again with The Appeal [Doubleday, 2008]. In the last couple of years John Grisham wandered off the beaten path of legal fiction with a true crime tale The Innocent Man and the delightful story of Italian football - the American variety, not soccer - Playing for Pizza.
Now, Grisham's twenty-first book is set back in his familiar home territory of Mississippi. The Krane Chemical Company had been dumping toxic waste in a rural Mississippi county known as cancer county, Mississippi. The Appeal opens with a jury awarding a 41 million dollars verdict for the plaintiff Jeanette Baker whose son and husband died of cancer caused by the defendant.
Baker's lawyers, husband and wife team of Wes and Mary Grace Payton, have bankrupted themselves in the pursuit of justice for their client. They have lost house and fine cars; resorted to a college slum apartment; and borrowed half-million from an uneasy banker in the pursuit of justice.
At trial's end the plaintiffs are faced with a lengthy appeal by a defendant who vows never to pay. Mr. Trudeau, owner of a majority of Krane stock, is adamant. "I swear to you, it will never happen. Not one dime of our hard-earned profits will ever get into the hands of those trailer park peasants. . . . If I have to bankrupt it [Krane] or break it into fifteen pieces, I swear to you on my mother's grave that not one dime of Krane's money will ever be touched by those ignorant people."
And the race is on between financial unequals, and Grisham is off on another legal tale which kept me up for most of one night and away from less pleasant tasks for most of the next day. The main trouble with a Grisham book is that it is only about 300 some odd pages. I could take 600 without batting an eye.
Grisham is not a Hemingway as some would cast him. I think more of Upton Sinclair. What Sinclair did for the food we eat and the meat packing industry in The Jungle, Grisham does for the legal trade.
In earlier novels he has written about trial lawyers -- their virtues and nigh criminal flaws. One might think at first that The Appeal
Trudeau watches the stock of Krane drop more than eighty percent of its value. He becomes the first man to lose more than one billion dollars in one day on the stock market. He sets out to rectify that by regaining his losses and plays havoc with the lawyers Payton, their client Baker and the tort system of Mississippi.
Trudeau buys a supreme court judge for the very bench before which the Krane case will come.
Of course the purchase is at more than arm's length -- well hidden from the view of the voters who will select the man who defeats the most liberal (and that not very) judge on the southern Mississippi circuit.
Trudeau's minions pick for defeat a divorcee, Shelia McCarthy. The fact that Judge McCarthy is a middle of the road justice with a clear sense of the difference between personal belief and the demands of the law becomes irrelevant. They select a small-town lawyer Ron Fisk whose politics are slightly left of Attila the Hun and who is able to speak to the church folk about godless medical patients, greedy consumers and their shady lawyers.
Of course Fisk wins and rules in case after case as his buyers intend. As the climax of the story approaches, Fisk's son is injured by a defective product and a medical error. The Krane Chemical case is on his desk at the time.
Grisham is a fine story teller. He is master of suspense, of the intricacy of plot and character. If I have one complaint it is that his characters spring to life full blown. We learn more about them as the novel moves along, but it is not a process of growth as of revelation. If judge Fisk is different from lawyer Fisk it is a matter not of development, but of different camera angles.
This flaw keeps John Grisham out of the ranks of Hemingway or for that matter his fellow Mississippian, Faulkner, but it makes him more at home in the age of the movies.
During the 1990's some judged that he was the best selling author of the decade.
The pleasure of his work is not diminished. The causes of his books are on the right side.
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney
This story was posted on 2013-02-17 05:41:15
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney: Sue Grafton at "T"
Tom Chaney: Mary James dishes it out
Tom Chaney: Dan Sickles: Roguish Rapscallion
Tom Chaney: Mary Lincoln's Insanity
Tom Chaney: Wade Hall: 200 Years of Kentucky Writing
Tom Chaney: A Trace of Awe
Tom Chaney: Joe Downing in Paris
Tom Chaney: Cussing with Imagination
Tom Chaney: Books at Christmas
Tom Chaney: A Mirror Up to Life
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Click for Info
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
Columbia in the Movies
from the archives of
Click for Stories
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.