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The Appeal by John Grisham
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The Appeal (2008)

by John Grisham

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I enjoyed this book as an unabridged audio work, and listened to it during daily commutes for a few weeks (it runs to 12.5 hours). It was quite entertaining; and the narrator (Michael Beck is skillful, and does a good job with the different voices and accents.

Mississippi attorneys Wes and Mary Grace Payton are battling Krane Chemical Corp. on behalf of their client Jeanette Baker, who lost her son and husband to carcinogenic pollutants. Employees of Krane Chemical have purposefully dumped chemical pollutants into the water supply for the town of Bowmore, causing widespread illness and deaths. In a wrongful death suit against Krane, the jury has awarded $41 million in damages to the plaintiffs, and wealthy stockholder Carl Trudeau seeks to overturn the verdict to save the company and his investments.

Here’s the plot. In anticipation of the case going to a higher court on appeal, Trudeau plots with wealthy and politically- connected backers to select a candidate for a judgeship sympathetic to their views, by running that candidate against incumbent Shelia McCarthy. They choose Ron Fisk, an easily manipulated neophyte with no relevant experience, and as a diversion, a third candidate (Clete Coley) designed to draw support from McCarthy. The plan is to have Coley withdraw to throw the race to Fisk. Sure enough, Fisk wins, and votes as expected on major cases brought on appeal. However, when Fisk’s son is injured due to another form of corporate negligence (involving use of outlawed sports equipment) and an associated medical error, he begins to rethink his stance. Nevertheless, Fisk votes to reverse the charge of liability against Krane and decides not to level a lawsuit on behalf of his son. In sum, this is a case that the bad guys win.

Grisham’s novel demonstrates in detail of how corporate interests can corrupt the legal system, allowing wealthy and powerful to escape the consequences of their actions. It offers a powerful indictment against the popular election of judges, since the outcome of such elections can so easily by big money and political manipulation. (In the US, public election of judges is allowed in a minority of states. In others, judges are appointed, a process that in recent years has proven to be partisan and thereby corrupt in different ways).

A less skillful author might have given an outcome with a happy ending, but Grisham’s is more true to life. Indeed, the fictional case he describes has precedent, as described at the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Appeal

A summary of the plot is available at the above-mentioned Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Appeal A more detailed summary ( )
1 vote danielx | Dec 29, 2018 |
I don't even know how I'm going to write a review on this. People are hating it because of the ending. It is not a happy ending. The other issue people have is that it is political and they were looking for courtroom drama. It is about the courts and how they are bought and so it steps away, I guess, from Grisham's normal "it all happens in the courtroom". We are barely in the courtroom though we are talking about the ins and outs of a major case, lawyers, judges and how shit goes down.

I'm also under the opinion that many getting nasty about the book are right wingers not wanting to read themselves in the light presented. Especially by a well known author who knows his stuff. It is almost like the author saw into the future. So, this is how the election went? This is how they all go? It all makes sense.

Yes, there are a ton of characters and you can get confused and there a cliche phrase here and there, but nothing that bad. I would take this any day over the J.D. Robb, Patricia Cornwell, and James Patterson that I've read.

4 star review hands down. ( )
  Katrinia17 | Dec 30, 2017 |
Wikipedia's biographical sketch highlights – “John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990.” The author’s first novel was published in 1989, and “The Appeal” was his 20th book. I think one of the most important things for me to remember as I read this novel in 2017 was that the original copyright and publication year was 2008. In some novels it seems of even higher importance and relevance to ensure that the reader does not close the book cover without reading “Author’s Note” and this note definitely added to the insightful message of the novel.

Regardless of one’s political views, I highly recommend that everyone of voting age should read this novel. I doubt the reader will ever take any election results for granted again – not ever. I would love to listen to the discussion of this novel by students in their final year of law school. Grisham’s novel is not only a purposeful presentation of judicial elections with relatable characters but continues in relevance to current events in 2017 as when first published. It is important that this issue be discussed as the consequences of silence and indifference are more far-reaching than could even be imagined in 2008.

I was interested to learn these facts as per the National Center for State Courts (NCSG) website (on this reader’s review date of 07-Jul-2017 and as a resident in Pennsylvania):
“In recent years, proposals have been introduced by legislators, governors, courts, and citizens' groups in nearly every state to limit the role of politics in the selection of state judges. The extent of these activities underscores the recognition that an independent judiciary is essential to the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the court system…Pennsylvania judges are chosen in partisan elections. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that holds its judicial elections in off years in conjunction with municipal elections.”

Readers may also be interested in the statistics provided on the National Institute on Money in State Politics website: https://www.followthemoney.org/ ( )
  Corduroy7 | Nov 16, 2017 |
I have not yet read this book.
  LynneQuan | Oct 16, 2017 |
This was a depressing, tedious story that went on too long about a chemical firm's unscrupulous pollution, causing cancer in an entire community. Grisham's apparent intent (spoiler alert) was to frame a situation where big business slid out of its liability for causing death and breaking laws. The real story here was about the egregious election of a supreme court justice.

Here was a great theme that should have formed the story: the idiocy of private donations, untraceable to the big business from whence these arrive, influencing which justice sits on the bench. Instead, we, the Readers, are bogged down for over 2/3rds of the novel with scene setting, all to demonstrate that the current American process to fill judicial positions is thoroughly corrupt. In the final author's note, Grisham admits this fact (that election of judges is a war of finances and competing interests with no focus on qualifications or experience.) Perhaps a timely story for me to reread (2017), reflective of the way the 45th president was elected, huh? ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Oct 1, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Grishamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beck, MichaelReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Professor Robert C. Khayat
First words
The jury was ready.
Quotations
The law's greatest responsibility is to protect the weakest members of our society. Rich people can usually take care of themselves.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
porque los jueces
no deben ser electos
por voto gente
(gneo flavio)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385515049, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:24 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Wall street millionaire Carl Trudeau purchases an unsuspecting Mississippi State Supreme Court judge candidate when a lower court rules against one of his chemical companies for dumping toxic waste into a small town's water supply causing a cancer cluster.… (more)

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