We hope you enjoy this book review by Allen Hott.

A riveting look at our society as a whole but more precisely how our judicial system works is what John Grisham’s The Appeal points out. It is a disturbing look at the methods used in getting judges elected and then pointed in certain directions as they make judgments. Sadly the book most likely is a very true picture of the way it works although The Appeal is fiction.

As is the case in most of Grisham’s books the story is set in the south and it is about the legal system. A large corporation producing chemicals has supposedly been dumping carcinogenic material into the earth and thus into the water supply of a small Mississippi town for many years. Although once they were “caught” they closed up shop and moved to Mexico while doing nothing about their leavings.

A small “Mom and Pop” law firm basically “caught” them and sought judgment for one particular victim. Jeanette Baker lost her husband and son to cancer over a very short period of time. Wes and Mary Grace Payton brought their law firm to her aid and went up against Krane Chemical, which was owned by Carl Trudeau.

Early in the book the verdict has just been handed down after almost two years of battling in the courts. The verdict is in favor of Jeanette and the Paytons. However Trudeau has no intention of paying out the award as set forth by the courts.

And therein begins the story of how one man and his enormous cache of funds goes about setting up the proper surroundings for “The Appeal” to be successful. He realizes that the Mississippi Supreme Court’s verdicts are normally hotly contested between conservatives and liberals (or perhaps moderates is a better word). His job is to replace the least conservative member with a justice that he molds to his liking.

Money is no object as Krane Chemical stands to lose over 40 million dollars as stated in the judgment. A young clean-cut attorney with no types of problems (criminal or personal) in his past is selected. The story then builds as the “heir” is built into a formidable opponent for the least conservative justice. Many methods are used to bring together right-wingers, gun advocates, Bible belt folks of all types, and big business. These groups along with millions Trudeau spends on advertising of mostly negative views of the seated justice all combine to get the young unspoiled attorney onto the Mississippi Supreme Court.

As is the way in our own courts and legislative bodies all of these happenings take time and along the way Grisham shows the worst part of our government and its members. However he keenly shows exactly how we, the people, follow the beat of the drummer and quickly get in line. The book moves well and the ending is something that will not be seen by many and will be repulsive to many but it is a great ending to a great book.



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