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They say write what you know, and John Grisham’s Gray Mountain: A Novel once again proves that he is a master at merging the intricacies of the courtroom with great somewhat underdeveloped characters and a captivating storyline!
Beginning in the early days of the ’08 economic recession, Gray Mountain follows Samantha Kofer, a lawyer working at a huge Wall Street law firm who find herself suddenly out of a job. Samantha, however, is one of the lucky few and is offered the “opportunity” to work at a legal aid clinic for a year in Brady, a small coal mining town deep in the heart of Appalachia, after which she might get her old job back. Suddenly, Samantha is thrown into a world where her clients are less concerned with putting their name on an ugly and over-priced high-rise to people dealing with abusive spouses, poverty, and fighting for their lives against big coal.
This book is great for readers who enjoy homespun, mildly sensuous stories with a little bit of menace coming from stalkers working for the coal company and a LOT of background information on courtroom proceedings. While his characters are a bit underdeveloped, and I took issues with Samantha’s nonchalant attitude towards the fact that she has a huge conflict given that she is sleeping with Jeff Gray, whose brother stole documents in order to make a case against the big coal company in town, Grisham nevertheless succeeds at painting a beautiful and often poignant picture of life in rural Appalachia.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the story and its use of Grisham’s knowledge of legal proceedings as well as its searing indictment of corporate greed. The characters could have been developed and the book’s ending could have been a bit better written, but as a whole it was an enjoyable read and I’d give Gray Mountain an 8.0 out of 10.