The Appeal – by John Grisham

Another legal thriller by John Grisham, The Appeal is a page turner, albeit one at a reduced pace. For a change, there is no killing by any government or industry goons. There are good lawyers and bad lawyers, and evil and selfish business  men and their trophy women.

The story leads us to get to know a few key characters, and we follow the characters in the plot until they no longer become central to the plot. Then the characters just fade away, giving focus to others. While Grisham does a good job with characterization, helping us see the folks, feel their feelings, he was sloppy on the plot, and when the book ends, we don’t have the feeling that things are tied up.

The ending is a surprise. The villians win and literally sail off into the sunset, ready to use and abuse more people, by the thousands and millions. In an age of corporate excess  and the associated failures, this book gives us a glimpse into the lives of the perpetrators. To be successful, it suggests, you have  to be ruthless, cunning, and it’s not a problem if you see others  as pawns only for your own personal benefit.

Mind you, Grisham does not try to teach, or moralize, he tries to entertain, and that he does. But the negative ending, the dropped characters, the unfinished story lines, all left me hanging. When I read the last page I had a hard time believing it was done. The good guys didn’t win, the bad guys didn’t get punished. It was as if Grisham just got tired of writing, and didn’t want to finish the last 50 pages and wrap things up so we’d feel good about the story.

So he left it hanging.

This is the weakest Grisham book I have ever read.

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