Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday, October 2014
Genre: Legal Thriller
Gray Mountain is a fictional mountain in the Appalachian Mountains. It was one of those mountains that had it’s entire top cut off so coal could be extracted easier than mining for it. This practice has ruined not only the beauty of this part of the country, but the lives of many residents as well as the local economy.
It’s costly to legally fight the big coal companies. Their high powered law firms know how to stretch out a lawsuit so that most people are dead or give up before it ever comes to a settlement. There’s a crying need for good legal aid.
The setting for this story, Brady, Virginia, happens to have a good legal aid clinic, but there’s only two lawyers, a paralegal and a secretary. Another lawyer sure would help. Enter Samantha Kofer, an attorney who has only a few years experience and its all been in corporate law in Manhattan.
The firm Samantha has been working for is feeling the pinch from the recession (its 2008) and they are forced to lay off associates. Samantha is offered a “special” deal. She can keep her seniority with the firm by doing “charity” work. The firm won’t pay her, but if they are in a position to rehire, she can come back with seniority. As Samantha goes down her list of possible places to work, she learns the recession has hit most places and even the “charity” jobs are getting taken.
Working for the legal aid clinic in Brady, Virginia is not the kind of law Samantha wants to practice, but she’s out of other options. There’s something about the challenge of the variety of cases she encounters. There’s also the people who really need her help. Samantha finds herself in the middle of some interesting and controversial cases. It’s a huge learning curve for Samantha, who has never been in a courtroom or practiced law that helps with the basics of human civility.
This is pure John Grisham. I particularly like how I always get really mad while reading one of his books. The bad guys are big and evil, with all the power and money on their side. The little people don’t stand a chance without some pretty smart and determined legal minds.
The characters in Gray Mountain are very good. Mattie Wyatt, the woman who founded the legal aid clinic is sharp, both legally and strategically. I also liked her nephews, one of whom is a legal shark fighting against the big guys. I was also sympathetic to the main character, Samantha. I really enjoyed seeing her clients, the whole community, and their unique problems through her perspective.
If you’re a John Grisham fan, you’ll enjoy this one. Don’t delay. Get it now. If you haven’t read a John Grisham, this is a good one to read.