July 21, 2017

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

My father was a trial attorney and book-lover. He and I enjoyed chatting about John Grisham books so I read several to keep pace with him. My dad’s death coincided with me deciding that Grisham’s books were starting to seem formulaic to me. I moved on to other popular fiction writers.

Imagine my delight when I ran across a library audio book version of Grisham’s 2014 novel, Gray Mountain and found it well-plotted and not predictable. Set right after the financial meltdown of 2008, the main character, Samantha Kofer, is a third year associate at a large New York law firm who is suddenly furloughed. She is encouraged to spend a year as an intern at a legal clinic in Virginia coal mining country.

We meet a cast of characters including her disbarred trial attorney father, her politically-connected mother, two Virginia brothers who are fighting the coal companies, her colleagues at the free legal clinic and her clients who sorely need legal representation. The reader is effortlessly immersed in the mining and cultural world of Appalachia.

Let me digress a moment with me seeing John Grisham enter the Pump Room in the mid 90’s, amid men in dark suits. He, in contrast, was in light-colored attire that made him literally glow amid these less glamorous dinner companions. Grisham has this energy emanating from him whether it is celebrity or perhaps personal wattage. He may not be writing literature for the ages, but he brings that remarkable energy to bear in having written a novel a year since 1988, many of them bestsellers.

Back to the book review, Gray Mountain would make an entertaining read on an airplane ride or on one’s daily commute. After all, one cannot live by Tolstoy and Faulkner alone.

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