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This book is terrible. Plot isn’t that great. Character lacks a pulse. Story line never really takes off. The ending sucks too. If you want to learn about the corruption of the coal industry then this is the book for you... then again you could just google that information.
Sometimes Grisham wants to tell a great story. Other times he wants to expose another seamy underbelly of the legal profession. Rarely, he writes both at the same time. I put this effort Gray Mountain, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It is indeed a polemic against the coal mining industry, and he does it without too much speechifying. The protagonist, a lawyer (surprise!) moves the story as she is exposed to some of the wretched workings of the coal industry, and her reluctant transformation from Big City lawyer to hard working Appalachian lawyer.
It is not his finest work, but it is an enjoyable, quick read,.
Good premise, but somewhat disappointing. Too predictable. Not enough expansion of characters and story having to do with the cases. If Strip Mining is the big evil, get after it. Shallow characters, having flings, not much intelligence, capricious, nor morals. I like Grisham's books, but, he needs to flesh out, but some with morals, his characters, especially those in lead roles. He seems to be targeting an easy audience, made up up of those who are rudderless, just in it all for themselves. Devil may care.
This is one of those times where I remember that I am just not the audience for mainstream novels.
This is a perfectly serviceable tale. Samantha is a lawyer at a prestigious New York law firm - right up until the housing crash. She's driven to maintain her life as it is, but she's not particularly driven in any other way. Samantha is a child of two other lawyers, and neither of them (a government employee and a former ambulance-chaser trial lawyer, disbarred) inspire her a lot.
She's laid off, but given the option of working for free at a nonprofit somewhere and finds herself in Appalachia. Suddenly she's thrown from paperwork and research into dealing face to face with poor people who are being thrown out of their houses and the coal barons' lawyers who are destroying the environment.
It's not a secret where Grisham's sympathies lie. Nor is it a surprise at any point in the novel. Literally nothing that happens is a shock. It's well-crafted, but it's like a tape measure: as it unrolls, you know what's coming next. Every pin is set up to be knocked down. You know X character(s) is/are going to die. You know what Samantha will end up doing in the end. You know who is going to end up as the love interest. It's all by the numbers.
I asked on Facebook what people see in this author. The responses were "Predictability" and "I liked his early stuff." And I can see that! I have no quibble with the way it's set up, but I could have wished for at least one surprise, and more showing and less telling.
Three of five stars, because wow, I can see the talent... but it's not what I'm looking for.
Grisham never ceases to entertain with his books. They are an easy read, gripping and at the same time entertaining. He provides an interesting look into the US legal system albeit fiction.
I'm not sure why this book was rated 1 star (when I looked March, 2017). I read it months ago and it's a well written, tauntly plotted thriller, just what you'd expect from Grisham. It is worth a minimum of 4 stars and imo, 5 stars.
I disagree the comments. I like Samantha even thought she would not do too much courtroom drama. She had strong character and feeling for her clients.
I'm a big Grisham fan and have read and loved every book of his. Gray Mountain, however, completely let me down! The story had so much potential to develop into an intriguing huge lawsuit against a big Coal Company that's basically breaking every rule in the book, however, the book's Ending is when the lawsuit against them is filed! So the whole story is just basically a slow-paced read about a spoiled, unlikeable brat of a lawyer from NY called Samantha and her misadventures in small town Virginia after she gets sacked from her big law-firm!!! This was very unlike a Grisham book, who's writing usually hooks me as a reader from the beginning till the end with his fast-paced story-telling, the exciting courtroom brouhaha and getting down to the nitty-gritty from the beginning (not the end of the book!)
It may not be fair but this book would probably get 4 stars if it had been written by a less-accomplished author. As a work of Grisham, though, it's just okay
Can't say this was one of my favourite Grisham novels. The story moved much too slowly and I kept hoping that our main character would grow up and become a more likeable character. Unfortunately Samantha Kofer, big city lawyer never really seemed to move beyond her entitled upbringing and self absorbed ways. I kept hoping we would see maturity and that she would show the ability to care for her clients and to take a risk. Sadly, that only happened in the last chapter, and perhaps that is where an interesting story might actually begin.
Honestly, almost any other character in this story would have been more interesting to read about. Donovan, Mattie, Jeff, Vic, Romey to name a few.
This story lacked the intrigue and satisfaction of his other books. I interpreted it as a "whistle-blower" on the corruption of Big Coal, the Lobbyists in Washington, and their horrific neglect of the miners' well-being - especially Black Lung. It also starkly revealed the tragic consequences of strip mining on the ecological health of the environment. The law suits filed on behalf of the affected characters, and thwarted by the unscrupulous machinations of Coal lawyers is further evidence of a System stacked against the victims.
Enjoyed the story BUT, I hated the ending. I was in high hopes for at least 2 of the cases. So no closure. His last book was basically the same. I liked all the characters except the greedy and arrogant lawyers and coal people. It's a shame this sort of thing still happens. So much of it broke my heart. Happy Reading!
Was expecting better. Enjoyed the Virginian setting and Mattie and the legal aid clinic but the story didn't pack the punch of earlier Grishams.
Realistic; as to job marked crash for attorneys; blood on the streets from my observation of the period; only jobs available public defender, and some government jobs, but what self respecting Yale' would take those jobs. Foster, 24 years as a public defender, and
more years in assorted legal jobs.
Also MP3 with a reader that might put you to sleep. What a departure for Grisham, however he certainly covered multiple issues; poverty, hazards of coal mining, health, to name a few. Not my favorite & skimmed much of it.
I liked this book a lot. It was VERY educational about coal mining and the people who have been screwed by the big coal companies. Although a work of fiction, I have no doubt, the characters portrayed have a living counterpart somewhere in Appalachia. I, also, would like to see the main characters, Sam and Maddie especially, in other books.
While somewhat interesting, the plot moves slowly and is predictable. It is repetitive in summarizing/reviewing the issues the heroine faces ( ie too much "filler"). Most of the client cases taken on by the heroine remain unresolved ...no doubt to lay the basis for a follow-up novel.This seems to be a book written merely for the money.
I usually enjoy a Grisham novel but this was just blah. I think it was really meant to raise awareness about the appalling practice of mountain-top mining, and the attitude of the coal companies to the welfare of their workers. Maybe there will be future stories of individual lawsuits, but this non-story didn't really set the stage for me. Yes, we all need to know more about how coal is brought to market, but using a weak story and an equally weak set of characters detracts from any thrust Grisham might have had. Samantha is unbelievable as a laid-off lawyer doing pro bono work, and the romance component is so unreal I found myself wondering why I was continuing to read. Hope is eternal, I guess, but in this case, totally misplaced.
I got this book because it was another John Grisham novel but it was hard to get into and a slow read overall. I finished it for the sake of finishing it, didn't enjoy it.
I was attracted to this book because of the location of the storyline. My paternal grandfather worked in the coal fields and had black lung disease. However he lived til his 80s.
The book was ok. I would have liked to see what happened to various cases mentioned. The ending was abrupt to me. But I did enjoy reading it.