Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Gray Mountain

Reviewed by Allen Hott

One of the most interesting books that I have read in some time. Many of us are familiar with Grisham’s writings which mostly focus on attorneys and courtroom drama. Gray Mountain is pretty much along those lines but with twists and turns that make it even more appealing than usual.

Samantha Korver works as an attorney of a huge law firm in New York City. She is far from the top and is working hard to get there. Billing up to 70 hours per week to clients she does in fact put in more hours than that usually. However she has settled in and loves being in the big city.

But then comes the downfall of the economy of 2008. Samantha shortly finds herself without a job and not sure where to go next. Her parents (a father who is an attorney with a cloudy record and some jail time; and a mother who is fairly high up as an attorney in the Department of Justice) are no longer living together so she really has no one or nowhere to go.

One of the conditions of her “”furlough” from the firm is the promise that if she goes to work for the next year for some non-profit organization her firm will allow her seniority to continue. If they hire her back within a year she will come back as though she had been on vacation.

Samantha finds, through her firm, a non-profit in Brady, Virginia called the Mountain Legal Air Clinic who is looking for “free” intern. Mattie Wyatt, the executive director of the clinic, asks her to come down for an interview.

On her way into Brady Grisham brings in some of his first interactions for her as she is pulled over and arrested for speeding (supposedly). After arriving at the jail in the supposed deputy’s car, she is approached by a young man who advises that he is an attorney and he has already gotten the charges dropped. This subplot is a great Grisham method as he moves forward with his story.

As it turns out the young man is not only an attorney but the main adversary to the big coal industry in Appalachia. He is also the nephew of Mattie so he is happy to see Samantha come into the Legal Aid workings of the area.

The more Samantha gets involved with the area the more she is perplexed as to whether she really wants to stay there and join in the fight for those victimized by strip mining or go back to NYC while hoping for a return to normalcy. The big city is very nice but Brady is also intiquing.

Grisham paints quite a picture of the entire area as he describes the scenery in the mountains especially those that have been decimated by strip mining. It is somewhat hard to believe exactly how the large coal companies are able to get away with the conditions that cause not only black lung to humans but also desolation for the environment including the animals that roam the hills.

A great story that everyone should read not only for the quality of Grisham’s writing which as usual is number one but also for the information about our country and what often happens when big money overwhelms all else.

Click Here to Purchase Gray Mountain: A Novel

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