Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Appeal - By John Grisham

Grisham tackles corporate greed and malfeasance once again.  This time, Grisham adds the extra complication of political corruption and misuse of the American democratic process.
Krane Chemical dumped horrendous amounts of chemical byproducts into its back 40, and the result was the transition of Carey County into "Cancer County."  A small local firm nearly went bankrupt fighting the big corporate boys, but justice was served with a $41,000,000 verdict.
However, a few back room meetings birthed a plan to "deal with" that troubling verdict by electing a "friendly" Mississippi Supreme Court judge.  The conservative judge is pure as snow, but he is frighteningly naive in his conservative Christian battle against liberalism and all its ills.  He has no idea that he is but a pawn in a larger scheme to save a big business from a well-deserved bankruptcy (which would surely follow from the other lawsuits and settlements).
Grisham scores a few moral victories with this book.
First, his obvious point is that corporate greed must be checked for the good of a vulnerable humanity, and this check often necessarily comes through huge punitive verdicts.  Without massive punishments for corporate wrong doing, there is almost no financial incentive for greedy corporations to correct (much less to prevent) wrongs.
Second, Grisham really gets deep into the moral complexities of justice.  Churches take both sides of this issue.  Some churches are blindly rallied to fight for the "moral" issues of anti-homosexuality and punishment of criminals (all the while dumbly acting as pawns in the larger political machine to elect the corporate boy).  On the other hand, a few churches fight injustice on the side of the poor.
So although the plot is a bit too predictable, this same plot forces us into the midst of ethical questioning.  Grisham makes us question why we stand where we do, why we support certain candidates, and what is really going on behind the scenes of our political landscape.  Any time a novel can do that - and tell a good story - I consider that a success.

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