Feature

Novel of the week

The Appeal by John Grisham

The Appeal
by John Grisham
(Doubleday, $28)

No other top-selling novelist is as fierce a social critic as John Grisham, said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times. Grisham’s urgent new work pits a scrappy husband-and-wife lawyer team against a deep-pocketed chemical company, and none of the pancake-flat characters on either side ever blurs the bold moral line that Grisham draws between them. Though The Appeal is “egregiously written” by pure literary standards, it provides a “fascinating” dramatization of the way moneyed interests are corrupting our electoral system. Grisham’s “savviest book in years” builds a surprising amount of suspense from events a reader can see coming, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. After a jury verdict goes against the chemical company, the greedy CEO decides to appeal, then arranges to add a sympathetic vote to Mississippi’s nine-member Supreme Court. That means buying a statewide election, and Grisham gets dramatic mileage from every step along the way. “The plot would seem far-fetched” if it weren’t so creepily familiar,” said Jennifer Reese in Entertainment Weekly. “This is stirring popular fiction that doubles as an important public-service announcement.”

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