The Appeal

By John Grisham | Doubleday | $27.95 | 355 pages | 2008

The title of this novel derives from the appeal of a $41 million verdict in a toxic waste trial to the Mississippi Supreme Court. During the appellate process a hotly contested election for one seat on that court takes place.

Special interest groups pour vast sums into each candidate's campaign coffers.

Grisham's thesis is that popularly elected appellate tribunals are likely to be corrupt. He would much prefer the "Tennessee Plan," codified at Tenn. Code Ann.  § §17-4-101 et seq. Unfortunately, that plan may be repealed or revised during the current legislative session. Our senators and representatives should read this book before voting.

My only criticism of the novel is that the author introduces far too many characters and subplots. At page 349, almost to the end of the story, I encountered "F. Clyde Hardin." Who's he? I had to backtrack to page 283 to refresh recollection.

The audio version by wonderful reader Michael Beck is available from Random House for $44.95.