‘Gray Mountain’ is John Grisham’s latest legal thriller and is one of those books that I barely put down once I started it.
Samantha Kofer works for a large New York Law firm. She comes from the right background (both parents are lawyers), and had the right education. She is on track to make partner in the not too distant future. Until 2008 when Lehman Brothers crashed and money became scarce. Now there are thousands of young lawyers out of work. Samantha is one of the lucky ones. She has been offered and unpaid furlough and may one day be hired back without loss of benefits – if she takes an unpaid internship.
So, Samantha finds herself in the small Appalachian town of Brady, Virginia in the heart of coal country, working for a legal aid clinic, helping real people with real problems. She hasn’t been in a courtroom since she graduated and now she is helping people who are being taken advantage of by the big guys and who can’t afford to pay for a lawyer.
But lurking behind the small everyday cases are some larger issues – mostly to do with coal companies – strip mining, environmental destruction, and complete disregard of workers’ health. Samantha finds herself getting drawn into these issues by the handsome Gray brothers and before she knows what’s happening, she has put her own life in danger.
Samantha seemed to me to be a disappointingly weak character who was just pulled along by events. She was indecisive and for most of the book was on the verge of heading back to New York to try to resume her meaningless and luxurious corporate life.
The environmental issues raised in the book had a huge impact on me. As an Australian I know only too well that the Appalachians aren’t the only place in the world where mining companies are raping the land for short term gain and long term disaster.
Although I didn’t like the main character much and the book lacked Grisham’s normal suspense and cohesiveness, I still found it difficult to put down. Every time I read a John Grisham novel I am surprised at how much I enjoy his writing.
Book Published 2014