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I tried. I really did. I opened John Grisham's The Appeal with no prejudices - or rather, with the prejudicesGrisham  shoved firmly to the back of my mind - and yet I fear I must report that I did not like the book at all.

The Appeal, which comes out Tuesday, is a legal thriller, only it thrills are somewhat non-existent. It's a slog and a half, no excitement, no escapism, just plodding.

I know there was a time when everybody read Grisham, and clearly they still do; his last novel, about a football team in Italy eating pizza or some such thing, made the bestseller lists. But it feels as though it's been a really long time since anyone got excited about a new Grisham book, eons since every other person you saw reading in an airport was lugging around a copy of The Firm. Which I too read a thousand years ago. I think I liked it. I don't remember much about it. But it was distracting, light entertainment. Nothing wrong with that.

It's just, who cares anymore? If we want to read legal thrillers there are so many other places to turn (many of which, I would assume, provide something better than The Appeal). I finished the book and will post a review of it Tuesday but...is his name alone enough to grab readers anymore?


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Brett Bayne

So what you're saying is that this book held no appeal for you.


It should be called The Unappeal.


I recently saw John Grisham being interviewed by Bill Moyers, and say what you want about his best-sellers, he's a great guy. Ask him what he thinks about Bush and the war in Iraq....
I'd love to see him write something great, although I was one of those people in the airport reading The Firm, which is my favorite of his. Unless you count A Time to Kill, which I think I am swayed by only because Matthew McConaughey played the lead role in the movie version. Anyway, I think we're all being too harsh on John Grisham, or at least, he's being too harsh on himself. I haven't read his latest, but it seems he should be aspiring to better things.


He might be a nice guy - and my mom met him years ago here at the now defunct Liberties bookstore in Boca and said he couldn't have been more friendly - but The Appeal still is not a good book. I'm not a snob about thrillers at all; I just think they have to have a driving narrative. It can't just be a story about process. The characters have to be interesting, and in The Appeal, they're just...not.

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