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The Appeal: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 1,119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the author of twenty bestselling books, John Grisham has set the standard for legal thrillers since the debut of The Firm in 1991. Enjoy this Q&A--as well as a personal note to Amazon readers--from John Grisham.

1. Your new novel starts off where most courtroom dramas end--with the verdict. Where did you get the idea to reverse the usual order of events this time around?
The actual trial is not a terribly significant part of the story. Most all of the action and intrigue begins after the trial is over, with the verdict and the subsequent appeal.


2. The Appeal overtly suggests that elected judges can be bought. If the novel is meant as a cautionary tale, what's next--the Presidential primaries?
Why not? Over one billion dollars will be spent next year in the Presidential primaries and general election. With that kind of money floating around, anything can be bought.


3. Speaking of electoral politics, you've been more vocal recently about your political views ... first supporting Jim Webb for Senate and now endorsing Hillary Clinton for the White House. Have you given any thought to running for office yourself?
No. I made that mistake 25 years ago, and promised myself I would never do it again. I enjoy watching and participating in politics from the sidelines, but it's best to keep some distance.


4. This is your first legal thriller in three years. How did it feel to get back to the genre that started it all, and can fans expect another thriller from you next year?
I still enjoy writing the legal thrillers, and don't plan to get too far away from them. Obviously, they have been very good to me, and they remain popular. I plan to write one a year for the next several years.


5. Your nonfiction book The Innocent Man continues to be a bestseller in paperback. In your ongoing work with The Innocence Project, have you come across another story of the wrongfully convicted that begs to be written as nonfiction?
There are literally hundreds of great stories out there about wrongfully convicted defendants. I am continually astounded by these stories, and I resist the temptation to take the plunge again into non-fiction.


6. What's on your bedside reading list at the moment?
1. The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin
2. Eric Clapton's autobiography
3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck.


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A Mississippi jury returns a $41-million verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping carcinogenic waste into a small town's water supply. The company's ruthless billionaire CEO is thwarted and the good guys (a courageous young woman who lost her husband and child and her two lawyers who've gone half a million dollars in debt preparing her case) receives its just reward. This sounds like the end of a Grisham legal thriller, but instead it's the beginning of a book-length lesson in how greed and big business have corrupted our electoral and judicial systems. Grisham's characters are over-the-top. The CEO and the other equally overdone villains—his venal trophy wife, a self-serving senator and a pair of smarmy political fixers—as well as the unbelievably good-hearted, self-sacrificing lawyers and an honorable state judge, are one dimensional. Michael Beck, with his natural Southern drawl, does a fine job of adding credibility and nuance to the large cast. But his efforts are for naught. In fact, the more he makes us feel for these characters, the less apt we are to be satisfied with the sourball moral of Grisham's downbeat discourse.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345532023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345532022
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading more than 250 pages of filler with nothing worth mentioning at the end of it all, except that the ending "majorly" sucked.

Essentially a sordid tale of big business and politics vs. big verdicts and class action lawsuits, it begins nicely, and gathers steam, then proceeds to continue blowing hot air at the reader until the unsatisfactory quickie ending.

While there's some food for thought regarding how the legal, political, religious and business arenas may all be connected, there's more garnish than meat in a story which could have been cut by about 100 pages of the filler, and sweetened with about 50 more pages of conclusion for dessert.

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS)

1. Large company dumps chemicals in rural community
2. Water changes color
3. People get sick
4. Some die
5. Small law firm files lawsuit
6. Large verdict awarded
7. Big business takes over
8. Money talks
9. Once again, Grisham gets tired of his own rambling and wraps up story in indecent haste leaving most of his ends dangling
10. His ends aren't pretty

I'd like to sue for 50% of my money back, plus loss of productive time, legal costs and mental trauma, and also for punitive damages, but I guess I'd lose on appeal.

Rated: 2.5 stars for half of a good book

The Innocent Man

Amanda Richards, March 21, 2008
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Format: Hardcover
Grisham has written some wonderful books. Unfortunately, The Appeal is not one of them. He has a point which is that elected judges create a problem and an opportunity for abuse. We all agree. By the way so do appointed judges.

The plot has been described by others. My issue with this effort is that everybody was predictable. The good folks were perfect. Plaintiff lawyers who will bankrupt themselves for a case they believe in. Not like many plaintiff lawyers who I have run into. The company and its owners are completely bad. When a character such as the general counsel of the company looks to be a little interesting he is ignored.

Grisham in my view has always had the ability to develop believable characters who were interesting. All the leading characters in this book were boring and too much of a stereotype.
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Format: Hardcover
John Grisham will be ending his absence from the New York Times Best Seller's List (fiction) with the arrival "The Appeal." Grisham's first legal thriller since the Broker (2005) is a gripping and compelling read that will be hard to put down. It is also timely since it highlights the underbelly of today's election politics.

The story centers on a small Mississippi law firm who wins a big verdict over a chemical giant, Krane, that has spread carcinogenic pollutants. Krane, fearful that this verdict, if not overturned, would set a precedent that would eventually destroy it, goes into action. It files an appeal that will find its way to the state supreme court, and hires a "dirty tricks" firm to unseat a sitting justice believe to be unfriendly. This is a viable strategy since Mississippi elects their Supreme Court justices and 69% of its voters know little about the court's candidates.

The "Appeal" provides a believable primer on how to rig an election - pick a victim; promote an unknown candidate with no visible record; and ambush the victim by painting him/her as a extreme ideologue (this liberal judge will destroy the family). Done well...and the election process is subverted.

This is Grisham's thirteenth legal thriller since "A Time to Kill" which was published in 1989. He has been a master at putting urgent moral issues on center stage for all to consider. He has succeeded again in "The Appeal."
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Format: Hardcover
Evil uncaring chemical baron Carl Trudeau's company has been poisoning the city of Bowmore's drinking water for years. After people start coming down with cancer and related ailments, the company cuts and runs to Mexico leaving hundreds of people ill and dying and the ground water contaminated. A scrappy altruistic attorney couple(the Paytons) sues Krane on behalf of a widowed client and wins a sizeable settlement. Carl Trudeau chooses to fight back, using his deep pockets and political connections.

I wanted to like this story, but I felt the good guy characters-particularly the attorneys -(the Paytons), were annoying. They were a little too perfect, a little too altruistic... It was very saccharine. The Paytons were both such Mary Sue's I didn't identify with them at all. Ironically, I liked the antics of the evil villains more because at least their plots and plans were entertaining.

Overall this was a decent book, but I found the simplistic character development aggravating.
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Format: Hardcover
I've followed Grisham's career for years, enjoying everything from his legal thrillers to his novellas. Sure, some of his more recent legal outings have faltered ("The Brethren" was awful, for example), but I've hung in there. Recently, he released "Playing for Pizza," and I thought this might be his attempt at regaining a second wind by doing something offbeat. Offbeat, indeed. I cannot recommend that particular book to anyone, based on the milquetoast lead character and his refusal to learn, change, mature, or give a decent story.

With the arrival of "The Appeal," I once again let my hopes soar. I heard some good feedback from a bookstore owner. I bought the book, and--to my thorough amazement--breezed through the first hundred pages in one sitting. The old Grisham was back, I told myself. This might be one of his best in years. All the pieces were in place for a great story.

Although "The Appeal" is nothing original, I was hooked by Grisham's portrayal of David and Goliath characters. The giant: Carl Trudeau, owner of a company that has illegally dumped chemicals into Mississippi waters and earth, resulting in cancer, leukemia, and the lost lives of many local townspeople. The midget: Payton & Payton, a law team of husband and wife who have risked everything to bring about justice. Grisham paints both protagonists and his antagonist with skill and empathy. Trudeau and his shallow trophy-wife were the villains you love to hate. I kept turning the pages.

As usual, Grisham takes issue with something in our legal system and makes a moral or political point. Here, he mixes familiar ingredients from "The Firm" (manipulation), rants from "The Chamber" (capital punishment), and bits from "The King of Torts" (huge settlements).
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