In a crowded courtroom in Mississippi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town's water supply, causing the worst "cancer cluster" in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it. The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court.
Reviewed on 16th March 2012
I didn't find this book as appealing as some of Grisham's earlier works - the narrative is quite dry and the characters not explored in much depth. A chemical company spent years polluting the town's water supply, killing off the locals, and when the courts hand down a massive fine, they decide the only way to beat it on appeal is to buy themselves a judge.
Ultimately, the book reads like exactly what it is - an argument for change in a system for selecting judges. Although it's framed around a fictional tale, the way it is presented seems surprisingly devoid of real emotion and almost feels like an editorial in a newspaper calling for change. It does a good job at this, but that doesn't make it a good novel.
The plot advances in a sporadic manner - at some points rushing through important scenes and other languishing over things that aren't going anywhere. It's not gripping like some of Grisham's earlier works, and events are described dispassionately - there's very little attempt made to align the reader with any of the characters, and it's hard to sympathise directly with them.
Overall I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping for more of an exciting tale, though I can understand Grisham's desire to write a story highlighting issues with the legal system.