Brief Review: ‘Gray Mountain’
Interesting story in which a big city lawyer finds herself in a small town in Appalachia working for a legal aid society while being drawn into the large-issue cases and intrigues surrounding big coal. One value of the book is acquainting readers with the problems of strip mining and the tenacity with which the companies involved deny that it has an environmental impact or a health danger to the miners.
The book moves well with the exception of the fact that too much time is devoted to the main character Samantha’s on-again/off-again angst over whether to stay in the small town or return to the big city. This issue is turned into a climatic tension issue when the fight against big coal is far more exciting.
The cast of characters has been well thought out because they represent big city lawyers, denizens of the coal industry, small-town folks with money, spousal abuse and other problems, and Samantha’s parents who no longer see eye-to eye on anything.
Samantha has a good heart and good instincts, but her indecisiveness occupies a lot of space in the novel, quite possibly because coal cases take 5-10-15 years or so to resolve and Grisham couldn’t afford to carry the story over so many years.
If you like Grisham and have read most of his books, you’ll probably like this one. Otherwise, you may find the tension slightly reduced by the time spent on Samantha’s feelings of homesickness.