Title: Gray Mountain
Author: John Grisham
Published: October 2014, Doubleday
My Rating: 3/5
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 gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.
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. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.
Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.
I have to admit that I did find this book tough going at times. Its quite long and there are a few parts that were a bit long winded and dull. I don’t think it helped that I found the main character Samantha a little bit boring and difficult to relate to. She’s a big city lawyer who has never seen the inside of a court room until she is put on furlough and told to take up an unpaid internship in Brady, Virginia. Once there she discovers that poor people need lawyers too and just how evil coal mining companys can be. I was shocked! Note: This may be sarcasm 😉
Gray Mountain just didn’t seem to be as fast paced as John Grisham’s other court room novels which I have really enjoyed in the past such as The Firm or The Pelican Brief but I appreciated the fact that it highlighted the some of the serious issues that have come about due to coal mining.
Readers who enjoy legal thrillers or reading about environmental issues will enjoy this book.