The horror was in the waiting — the unknown, the insomnia, the ulcers. Co-workers ignored each other and hid behind locked doors. Secretaries and paralegals passed along the rumors and refused eye contact. Everyone was on edge, wondering, "Who might be next?" The partners, the big boys, appeared shell-shocked and wanted no contact with their underlings. They might soon be ordered to slaughter them.Here's a summary of the story:
The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track — until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, one of the "lucky" associates, is offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back. In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to "help real people with real problems." For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets. Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.There are currently "641 holds on first copy returned of 402 copies" in the St. Louis County Library system. I, of course, am number 641. Oops! Someone has just become number 642. How, you ask, did I manage to copy the opening lines of this novel, if I don't have the book in my hand? Straight off the internet. Why am I so anxious to read it, when I don't normally read thrillers? Because Roy Exum wrote about the book in connection with a similar situation happening near Chattanooga, Tennessee, my hometown: ‘Gray Mountain’ and Dayton Mountain. Comparing Grisham's thriller with the real-life coal company that, last month, got approval for coal mining operations for Dayton Mountain in Rhea County, Exum wrote:
My big hope is that the Rhea County School Board will make John Grisham’s latest thriller required reading. It tears the top off the Big Coal industry and, if you think it is unfair for me to draw a parallel between a fictitious book and a coal-mining operation that will scalp Dayton Mountain, allow me to point out, "Fair is a place you take your favorite pig in the summertime."
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.