by John Grisham
Arrow Books, HK$108
John Grisham is the most golden of calves in the publishing industry: a novelist who laughs in the face of credit crunches and tweaks the nose of falling book sales. The Appeal shows Grisham is back on song after a three-year sabbatical from the legal blockbusters that put him at the top of best-seller lists and dominated Hollywood. Fans will be pleased to know The Appeal is Grisham to the power of 10. It starts in upbeat fashion when that Grisham staple, a small law firm - consisting of Wes and Mary Payton - wins a big case against a big corporation. Anyone familiar with The Firm or The Client will know this is only the beginning of the story and, anyway, we are hardly 20 pages in. Soon, the bad old corporation (Krane Chemical) is harassing Wes and Mary to within an inch of their briefs - legal and otherwise. To do this, the Kranes must rig the election of a Supreme Court judge. It is an inspired plot device. Grisham shows how a middle-of-the-road candidate, an unspectacular woman, can rapidly be turned into a corrupt feminist strumpet who makes Eva Braun look like Eva Mendez. The appeal of The Appeal is obvious.