About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Appeal by John Grisham

Not having a current review I was ready to post I looked back at reviews from over a decade ago I had not posted. The Appeal remains very relevant. I have never felt comfortable with American's approach of elected judges. I worry even more about  because of the increasing politicization of its judiciary. Democracy is best served by having judges less rather than more political.
9. - 419.) The Appeal by John Grisham – The married legal team of Wes and Mary Grace have been fighting a wrongful death case against Krane Chemical for over 4 years in southern Mississippi. The case has exhausted them physically and put them on the edge of bankruptcy. The jury awards $3 million in compensatory damages and $38 million in punitive damages for their client. The Graces are on the verge of becoming rich. Carl Trudeau, chair of Krane, vows never to pay a cent. While his lawyers appeal the trial decision he retains a shadowy group to elect a more “business” favourable judge on the Supreme Court and swing the evenly divided court. A non-entity, Ron Fisk, is selected to be the candidate. (He is such a non-entity it is hard to believe he could be effectively packaged.) The book explores how business, insurance, the religious right and gun advocates are willing to spend millions to get the appellate judges elected they want in office. At the same time the trial lawyers spend heavily, never as much, to retain or elect the judges of their choice. It is a new theme in American justice that among the biggest electoral fights are over state appellate judges. It reinforces my conviction that we are far better served by appointed judges. The pace is skillfully done. Each novel in Mississippi is very well done. I raced through the book in 2 days. I was startled at the end when the twist did not produce a twist to justice. Maybe the topic was too important for Grisham to find a happier ending. (Feb. 17/08)


  1. You make a very strong point, Bill, for judges to be as non-political as possible. The election of judges does have drawbacks, especially in an ear of very divisive politics. And even in different sorts of times, I see the merit in judges being separate from the political process. I actually think that's one thing I like best about Grisham's work. He addresses real issues in the legal system without making his novels seem preachy. I'm glad you highlighted this one.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I acknowledge that appointment processes, including Canada, have a political component but it is less political especially with regard to ideology. An independent judiciary is critically important.

      Grisham is good at developing plots with contemporary issues. Most of the time he is not preachy.

  2. I agree that Grisham deals with current issues without being preachy. He tells a story and inserts relevant points into the narrative.
    Even in Sycamore Row, an excellent book, he brings up some horrific Mississippi history in a few pages, but then tells the story and it's good.
    By the way, Attica Locke's second Darren Mathews book, "Heaven, My Home," is so good I want to reread "Bluebird, Bluebird." Some references to it which I forgot. Also, I'm having post-good-book slump, as Bernadette would say, after finishing it. It's pretty political.
    Lots of surprises and some interesting history around Jefferson, Texas, beautiful Caddo Lake and islands.
    Only problem: a year for the third book.
    A friend heard Attica Locke speak over the weekend in Houston, says she plans two more books in the series. (We hope for more.)

    I did read The Appeal years ago and I liked it. Wasn't happy about the ending, but thought Grisham expertly explained the politics involved in judgeships and how crucial they are. And then there were the hard-working attorneys bringing the lawsuit which was sympathetic.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I agree that Grisham generally does not preach. I have found a few of his books are preaching. With The Appeal I was not expecting the ending.

  3. I was hoping for a better ending in The Appeal, for the good guys and gals to win, for principles to be victorious.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. The ending made Grisham less predictable for me.