Gray Mountain by John Grisham

read by Catherine Taber

Grisham must have been writing on autopilot this year. Or perhaps he has put the franchise out to the highest bidder (as apparently some blockbuster names now do), and just not bothered to read the results, because Gray Mountain simply will not do.

Once again we have the plucky rookie lawyer opposing Corporate Big Law, which this time is propping up good old American market forces capitalism in the form of the heartless coal industry – wilfully ruining the environment, callously destroying communities and families, and ruthlessly cheating, murdering, exploiting and enslaving. Grisham’s knight in shining armour (or should that be ‘armor’) coming to the rescue here is Samantha Kofer – progeny, you won’t be surprised, of successful and wealthy, but divorced, DC lawyers – who is living the sweet life of a third-year associate at one of New York’s largest law firms, and hating it.

Needless to say, having been ‘cardboard-boxed’ in the aftermath of the Leman Brothers bankruptcy and forced to take an unpaid position in the Appalachian Mountains, she decides, after an unavoidable fling with the brave, handsome and tenacious local lawyer, to eschew the offer of status and riches in a start-up City law firm (phoenixed, somehow, from the ashes of US banking fraud), and stay on in Hillbilly country to save Gray Mountain, fight the good fight and right every wrong.

Catherine Taber gives it her best, but the pace is slow, the characters two-dimensional, the dialogue flat and the suspense criminally lacking.

Not one of Grisham’s best, although that probably won’t stop it filling many a Christmas stocking at the end of the year.

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