Book review: Gray Mountain (John Grisham)

Title: Gray Mountain

Author: John Grisham

Publisher: Dell


Samantha was working in a large law firm in New York that paid her handsomely. Then came the unexpected crisis that followed after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It brought a halt to her promising career. The law firm downsized, and she, together with a few lawyers, was asked to leave. A few of them, including Samantha, were given an option to volunteer at some non-profit organisations, with the possibility of rehiring by the law firm after a year. After getting rejected by 10 organisations in the list, Samantha grabbed the chance for the position in a legal aid clinic in Brady, a small town in Virginia.


Brady was a different world from New York. The new job scope was also different. She learnt new things, and did legal-related things she never got to do in New York, such as entering a courtroom. She got to know Donovan, a fellow lawyer, also the nephew of her boss in the legal aid clinic. Donovan took on lawsuits against the coal mining companies and as a result he was the enemy of those companies. Samantha learnt about the damages caused by the coal mining companies to the environment and how it affected the people, and was appalled by the ways the coal mining companies exploited the legal system. Even Donovan seemed to be playing dirty to win the lawsuits. Donovan was preparing for a major lawsuit and she wanted no part in it as she was still planning to return to New York after a year was up. But the sudden death of Donovan in an air crash, got her deeper in the situation.


This is an interesting story with coal mining as background. Most of the characters in the novel are lawyers or somewhat linked to the legal circle. Through the characters the reader learns about the pollution caused by coal mining and the ways some companies exploited the legal system. I am not sure how much of it is fiction but I believe John Grisham researched intensively on the subject matter as there are some descriptions of the mining process, and usage of terms related to coal mining, such as mountaintop removal, and strip-mining. I was expecting electrifying courtroom scenes with the lawyers debating furiously in front of the jury and judge, but there are only a few court scenes in the story and even those concluded shortly.


PS: I borrowed this book from the library. I have not received any form of compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the publisher or author mentioned in the post.


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