Title: Gray Mountain
Author: John Grisham
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Page Count: 474
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she is downsized, furloughed, and escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, all for a slim chance of getting rehired.
In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Samantha’s new job takes her into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack. But some of the locals aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town, and within weeks Samantha is engulfed in litigation that turns deadly. Because like most small towns, Brady harbors big secrets that some will kill to conceal.
Samantha Kofer thought she would be on the fast track to making partner at her law firm in Manhattan with her long hours and dedication. What she didn’t expect was to walk into her job as an associate at the firm and find out that she’d been laid off due to the current recession.
With jobs scarce to come by in the legal field Samantha takes the firm up on the offer of finding work in legal aid for the next year with the possibility to return to her job. Heading to Brady, Virginia Samantha never expected to find the tough cases and the people that she did.
I’m a huge fan of legal thrillers and don’t read them often enough and being a long time fan of Grisham’s work I thought I would grab one of his books and immerse myself into some legal excitement. Gray Mountain however seemed to lack that exciting spark that I was searching for when picking this one up.
The book has all the basics of a Grisham novel that one would expect with a determined and gritty young lawyer and an interesting setting filled with legal potential. Being in the backwoods certainly led to some creative characters to fill the pages too and there was some quite unexpected moments. What I found lacking though was those courtroom brawls and excitement. Still a solid read in the end though while it wasn’t my favorite of his catalog.
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About the author:
Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby–writing his first novel.
Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation.
One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.
That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.
The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham’s success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.
Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one book a year. His other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza,The Appeal, The Associate, Ford County, The Confession, The Litigators, Calico Joe, The Racketeer, Sycamore Row, Gray Mountain, and Rogue Lawyer. All of them have become international bestsellers. In addition he has written six novels for Young Adult readers: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, Theodore Boone: The Abduction, Theodore Boone: The Accused, Theodore Boone: The Activist, Theodore Boone: The Fugitive, and Theodore Boone: The Scandal (2016). There are currently over 300 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection. Partners (March 2016) was his first original digital short story. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.
Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books’ protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.
When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.
Photo credit Billy Hunt