Gray Mountain: A Novel

Hardcover | October 21, 2014

byJohn Grisham

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John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she’s full of surprises

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, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s 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.

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From the Publisher

John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she’s full of surprises 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, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to wor...

JOHN GRISHAM is the author of twenty-seven novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and four novels for young readers.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.53 × 6.38 × 1.25 inPublished:October 21, 2014Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038553714X

ISBN - 13:9780385537148

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Customer Reviews of Gray Mountain: A Novel


Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK Read. This is an OK read, fairly easy to get through.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from ENGULFING DISAPPOINTMENT This novel (IMO) was so bad I could not get past the half way point before it was closed permanently and relegated to the bottom shelf of the book case. Plot (if there was one) was boring, completely un-engaging, repetative, and depressing. Completely devoid of zing, intrigue, suspense, and the urge to 'read just one more page'. I stand totally baffled with this author that I have enjoyed so much in the past. Really dropped the ball with this one.
Date published: 2015-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed it!!! A real page turner, John, but was a bit disappointed in the ending. However, you left it in place for a sequel, which is something you might think of doing in the near future.
Date published: 2015-10-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain I felt like I was just beginning the story when it ended so abruptly that I checked my ereader a couple of times to see if I was missing some pages. I hope Mr Grisham writes a sequel and finishes up with a great ending. I know he usually writes from the male perspective but this one was a all over the place with no landing. It was a bit repetitive in places. I am looking forward to another book.
Date published: 2015-09-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not his greatest work... I have got to be honest....this book really let me down. Grisham normally writes books that have decent endings to the story lines that are introduced in his stories....Gray Mountain doesn't have that. Does the main character win the large case she has decided to tackle? What ever happens to Jeff. Does the case with the purloined documents go to trial?? I hate to say it, but this book was a real let down. I have come to expect far more from John Grisham.
Date published: 2015-08-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from grisham always I thought it moved well, covered the facts and had little extra frills. I never miss a chance to read a Grisham novel
Date published: 2015-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain Always a good read from this author. Love law procedurals. Some unexpected occurrences - not the usual boy-meets-girl, they fall-in-love, etc. Worthwhile reading.
Date published: 2015-07-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain by John Grisham This was a good read, until the end....then it left you wondering what she would do, or where she was going, or what would happen, it kind of ended in the middle of the if there isn't a sequel, then this was a lousy book.
Date published: 2015-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain I enjoyed the book from the very first page. There was constant situations arising. I felt I could identify with the characters. When it ended, I was wanting more. I am hoping the writer will write a second book as a continuation from this one.
Date published: 2015-06-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing As a fan of John Grisham, I found this book disappointing compared to his other work. Difficult to get into and too much left open at the end.
Date published: 2015-06-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring Disappointing
Date published: 2015-06-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gray mountain A good read but very boring. It was quite slow and a lot of repetition. I really was interest in the facts and documentary about the area, mining and health problem.
Date published: 2015-05-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain If you like self centered characters and a plot that takes forever to develop, then you will enjoy this novel. I didn't.
Date published: 2015-05-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A lot of loose ends. I would have enjoyed the book more if one or two of the cases were resolved before the end, given the amount of setup each case had in the story.
Date published: 2015-05-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A boring bore - no pun intended What a disappointing snore. Grisham's other books have always been hugely readable and entertaining; not to mention learning a few things here and there. The characters in Gray Mountain are generic cardboard cutouts except, maybe, Mattie). The surprise was just a nuisance contrivance to try to move what little plot(s) there are/were. along. Ending totally inconclusive. Was wondering if Grisham had to end it that way so as not annoy the coal companies which he lambastes throughout the story. Although what he describes of the industry is accurate to some degree, what he does with it is way over the top. Don't bother.
Date published: 2015-04-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Grey mountain l have read every book that Grisham has written and if this was my first one it would have been my last.This is not what I of book
Date published: 2015-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain Long time Grisham fan. This one is excellent. Always suspenseful and thrilling! Waiting for the next one.
Date published: 2015-04-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poorly written I was disappointed. I remember Grisham's older books as much better written. Many times this one felt like he was telling a story to a child. He would describe a character's reaction in sufficient detail and then add another sentence telling you what the reaction meant. It is awkward and uncomfortable. If the author tells you a character's heart begins to pound and his-her palms begin to sweat, it isn't necessary to add another sentence telling you that he-she is afraid. The plot, at least in the first 80% of the book, has sufficient action-suspense; although, I found the overall premise, unbelievable.
Date published: 2015-04-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Read Julia Keller's mystery series instead. Poorly written and, accidentally perhaps, is a poor knock-off the far, far superior Julia Keller mystery series set in the Appalachia. Even the cover appears to be an amalgam of two Julia Keller book covers. The Keller books are better written - don't waste your time on this one. I was very disappointed because I remember Grisham's older books as much better written than this one. Many times this felt like he was lecturing a child. He would describe a character's reaction in sufficient detail and then add another sentence telling you what the reaction meant. It is awkward and uncomfortable. If I tell you a character's heart begins to pound and his-her palms begin to sweat, I don't need another sentence telling you that he-she is afraid.
Date published: 2015-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Grey Mountain If you just need some thing to fill in some time, this is the book to do it with. After reading so many Grisham books, I would have had no clue He was the author if his name wasnt on the cover. An earlier work?
Date published: 2015-03-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gray Mountain Maybee not the most exiting Grisham I ever read but probably the most sincere one In terms of lawparactix.
Date published: 2015-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good I liked it but I felt it was unfinished. I think authors are having a hard time ending their books and this just left me hanging.
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GrayMountain An exciting, "couldn't put down" novel! I loved that the main character was a female lawyer! I can hardly wait for the next one! Thank you, John Grisham!
Date published: 2015-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Easy reading. Enjoyable. Can be set down and return later. Held your interest and moved along in a steady pace.
Date published: 2015-02-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It's okay... I read anything Grisham writes. However, I was not convinced by the main character. She was actually cringe-worthy at times. There are some interesting characters throughout the story, but they are not really developed, too much time spent discussing the main character's self-involved dilemmas. I don't say you shouldn't read the book, but be prepared for caring less about the people involved in the story.
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from HORRIBLE!! There is a reason this book was on sale for $10.00!! It was so boring and repetitive...nothing happens! Not worth evening borrowing from someone. He needs to take a break for writing.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from boring does not feel like it was written by him, this is not a page turner but a page skipper ! very repetitive and diappointing. Sorry John this book is a snooze
Date published: 2014-12-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Grisham Goes Light & Easy It was a rather light and quick read, not at all typical of Grisham. Although entertaining it was not his best work.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from boring I wonder if Grisham actually wrote this book, it is not his style of writing and it goes nowhere, unlike his others which you can't put down and lead to an exciting, unexpected ending. Very disappointing.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Typical John Grisham story about lawyers. I bought this book because I have read everything that John Grisham writes. I was disappointed with this effort. He takes the reader over and over along the same point that the characters are making. Perhaps he hurried this book along to get it out for the holiday gift buying season.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing and dull. This novel is very slow, tiresome and lacking in any life until exactly half way through it. Then someone dies in a plane crash ( we never really are told why) and the story picks up a little but not a lot. Its about a boring young NY lawyer, furloughed and she goes to Brady where she learns about cases of lung disease from the coal mining areas. The large mining companies prevent any financial settlements to their employees when they become ill. Blah blah blah....dull beyond belief. There is a brief affair but aside from that , nothing to add to the story. The ending is the expected happy ending......she stays, she helps. The end. It still has Grisham's beautiful easy writing style but this one is a snoozer. Surprising and disappointing for Grisham.
Date published: 2014-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book by Grisham! This one was great.. Its a tad slow to begin with but it picks up making you wanting more! The ending is absolutely the best way he could have finished the book! Totally worth the read!!!
Date published: 2014-11-26

Extra Content

Read from the Book

1The 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.The gossip was brutal. Ten associates in Litigation terminated; partially true--only seven. The entire Estate division closed, partners and all; true. Eight partners in Antitrust jumping to another firm; false, for now.The atmosphere was so toxic that Samantha left the building whenever possible and worked with her laptop in coffee shops around lower Manhattan. She sat on a park bench one pleasant day--day ten after the fall of Lehman Brothers--and gazed at the tall building down the street. It was called 110 Broad, and the top half was leased by Scully & Pershing, the biggest law firm the world had ever seen. Her firm, for now, though the future was anything but certain. Two thousand lawyers in twenty countries, half of them in New York City alone, a thousand right up there packed together on floors 30 through 65. How many wanted to jump? She couldn't guess, but she wasn't the only one. The world's largest firm was shrinking in chaos, as were its competitors. Big Law, as it was known, was just as panicked as the hedge funds, investment banks, real banks, insurance conglomerates, Washington, and on down the food chain to the merchants on Main Street. Day ten passed without bloodshed, as did the next. On day twelve there was a flash of optimism as Ben, one of Samantha's colleagues, shared a rumor that credit markets in London were loosening a bit. Borrowers might find some cash after all. But late that afternoon the rumor had run out of gas; nothing to it. And so they waited.Two partners ran Commercial Real Estate at Scully & Pershing. One was nearing retirement age and had already been shoved out. The other was Andy Grubman, a forty-year-old pencil pusher who'd never seen a courtroom. As a partner, he had a nice office with a distant view of the Hudson, water he hadn't noticed in years. On a shelf behind his desk, and squarely in the center of his Ego Wall, there was a collection of miniature skyscrapers. "My buildings" he liked to call them. Upon completion of one of his buildings, he commissioned a sculptor to replicate it on a smaller scale, and he generously gave an even smaller trophy to each member of "my team." In her three years at S&P, Samantha's collection had six buildings, and that was as large as it would get."Have a seat," he ordered as he closed the door. Samantha sat in a chair next to Ben, who was next to Izabelle. The three associates studied their feet, waiting. Samantha felt the urge to grab Ben's hand, like a terrified prisoner facing a firing squad. Andy fell into his chair, and, avoiding eye contact but desperate to get things over with, he recapped the mess they were in."As you know, Lehman Brothers folded fourteen days ago."No kidding, Andy! The financial crisis and credit meltdown had the world on the brink of a catastrophe and everyone knew it. But then, Andy rarely had an original thought."We have five projects in the works, all funded by Lehman. I've talked at length with the owners, and all five are pulling the plug. We had three more in the distance, two with Lehman, one with Lloyd's, and, well, all credit is frozen. The bankers are in their bunkers, afraid to loan a dime."Yes, Andy, we know this too. It's front-page. Just get it over with before we jump."The exec committee met yesterday and made some cuts. Thirty first-year associates are being let go; some terminated outright, others laid off. All new hires are deferred indefinitely. Probate is gone. And, well, there is no easy way to say this, but our entire division is on the block. Cut. Eliminated. Who knows when owners will start building again, if ever. The firm is unwilling to keep you on the payroll while the world waits for loose credit. Hell, we could be headed for a major depression. This is probably just the first round of cuts. Sorry, guys. I'm really sorry."Ben spoke first. "So we're being terminated outright?""No. I fought for you guys, okay? At first they planned to do the pink slip thing. I don't have to remind you that CRE is the smallest division in the firm and probably the hardest hit right now. I talked them into something we're calling a furlough. You'll leave now, come back later, maybe.""Maybe?" Samantha asked. Izabelle wiped a tear but kept her composure. "Yes, a big fat maybe. Nothing is definite right now, Samantha, okay? We're all chasing our tails. In six months we could all be at the soup kitchen. You've seen the old photos from 1929."Come on, Andy, a soup kitchen? As a partner, your take-home last year was $2.8 million, average at S&P, which, by the way, came in fourth in net-per-partner. And fourth was not good enough, at least it wasn't until Lehman croaked and Bear Stearns imploded and the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst. Suddenly, fourth place was looking pretty good, for some anyway."What's a furlough?" Ben asked."Here's the deal. The firm keeps you under contract for the next twelve months, but you don't get a paycheck.""Sweet," Izabelle mumbled.Ignoring her, Andy plowed ahead: "You keep your health benefits, but only if you intern with a qualified nonprofit. HR is putting together a list of suitable outfits. You go away, do your little do-gooder bit, save the world, hope like hell the economy bounces back, then in a year or so you're back with the firm and you don't lose any seniority. You won't be in CRE but the firm will find a place for you.""Are our jobs guaranteed when the furlough is over?" Samantha asked."No, nothing is guaranteed. Frankly, no one is smart enough to predict where we'll be next year. We're in the middle of an election, Europe is going to hell, the Chinese are freaking out, banks are folding, markets are crashing, nobody's building or buying. The world's coming to an end."They sat for a moment in the gloomy silence of Andy's office, all four crushed with the reality of the end of the world. Finally, Ben asked, "You, too, Andy?""No, they're transferring me to Tax. Can you believe it? I hate Tax, but it was either Tax or driving a cab. I got a master's in taxation, though, so they figured they could spare me.""Congratulations," Ben said."I'm sorry, guys.""No, I mean it. I'm happy for you.""I could be gone in a month. Who knows?""When do we leave?" Izabelle asked."Right now. The procedure is to sign a furlough agreement, pack up your stuff, clean off your desk, and hit the street. HR will e-mail you a list of nonprofits and all the paperwork. Sorry, guys.""Please stop saying that," Samantha said. "There's nothing you can say that helps matters here.""True, but it could be worse. The majority of those in your boat are not being offered a furlough. They're being fired on the spot.""I'm sorry, Andy," Samantha said. "There are a lot of emotions right now.""It's okay. I understand. You have the right to be angry and upset. Look at you--all three have Ivy League law degrees and you're being escorted out of the building like thieves. Laid off like factory workers. It's awful, just awful. Some of the partners offered to cut their salaries in half to prevent this.""I'll bet that was a small group," Ben said."It was, yes. Very small, I'm afraid. But the decision has been made."A woman in a black suit and a black necktie stood at the quad where Samantha shared a "space" with three others, including Izabelle. Ben was just down the hall. The woman tried to smile as she said, "I'm Carmen. Can I help you?" She was holding an empty cardboard box, blank on all sides so no one would know it was the official Scully & Pershing repository for the office junk of those furloughed or fired or whatever. "No, thanks," Samantha said, and she managed to do so politely. She could have snapped and been rude, but Carmen was only doing her job. Samantha began opening drawers and removing all things personal. In one drawer she had some S&P files and asked, "What about these?""They stay here," Carmen said, watching every move, as if Samantha might attempt to pilfer some valuable asset. The truth was that everything of value was stored in the computers--a desktop she used in her space and a laptop she took almost everywhere. A Scully & Pershing laptop. It, too, would remain behind. She could access everything from her personal laptop, but she knew the codes had already been changed. As if sleepwalking, she cleaned out the drawers and gently tucked away the six miniature skyscrapers from her collection, though she thought about tossing them into the trash can. Izabelle arrived and was given her own personal cardboard box. All others--associates, secretaries, paralegals--had suddenly found business elsewhere. Protocol had been quickly adopted--when someone cleans out a desk, let them do it in peace. No witnesses, no gawking, no hollow farewells.Izabelle's eyes were puffy and red; she had obviously been in the restroom crying. She whispered, "Call me. Let's have a drink tonight.""Sure," Samantha said. She finished stuffing it all into the box, her briefcase, and her bulky designer bag, and without looking over her shoulder she marched behind Carmen down the hallway and to the elevators on the forty-eighth floor. As they waited, she refused to look around and absorb it one last time. The door opened and thankfully the elevator was empty. "I'll carry that," Carmen said, pointing to the box, which was already increasing in bulk and weight. "No," Samantha said as she stepped inside. Carmen pushed the button for the lobby. Why, exactly, was she being escorted out of the building? The longer she pondered the question the angrier she became. She wanted to cry and she wanted to lash out, but what she really wanted was to call her mother. The elevator stopped on the forty-third floor and a well-dressed young man stepped in. He was holding an identical cardboard box, with a large bag strapped over his shoulder and a leather briefcase under an arm. He had the same stunned look of fear and confusion. Samantha had seen him in the elevator but never met him. What a firm. So mammoth the associates wore name badges at the dreadful Christmas party. Another security guard in a black suit stepped in behind him, and when everyone was in place Carmen again pressed the button for the lobby. Samantha studied the floor, determined not to speak even if spoken to. On the thirty-ninth floor, the elevator stopped again, and Mr. Kirk Knight got on board while studying his cell phone. Once the door closed, he glanced around, saw the two cardboard boxes, and seemed to gasp as his spine stiffened. Knight was senior partner in Mergers & Acquisitions and a member of the executive committee. Suddenly face-to-face with two of his victims, he swallowed hard and stared at the door. Then he suddenly punched the button for floor number 28.Samantha was too numb to insult him. The other associate had his eyes closed. When the elevator stopped, Knight hustled off. After the door closed, Samantha remembered the firm leased floors 30 through 65. Why would Knight make a sudden exit onto 28? Who cared?Carmen walked her through the lobby and out the door onto Broad Street. She offered a meek "I'm sorry," but Samantha did not respond. Laden like a pack mule, she drifted with the foot traffic, going nowhere in particular. Then she remembered the newspaper photos of the Lehman and Bear Stearns employees leaving their office buildings with boxes filled with their stuff, as if the buildings were on fire and they were fleeing for their lives. In one photo, a large color one on the front of the Times's section B, a Lehman trader was caught with tears on her cheeks as she stood helplessly on the sidewalk. But those photos were old news now and Samantha did not see any cameras. She set the box down at the corner of Broad and Wall and waited for a cab. 2In a chic SoHo loft that cost her $2,000 a month, Samantha flung her office crap at the floor and fell onto the sofa. She clutched her cell phone, but waited. She breathed deeply, eyes closed, emotions somewhat in check. She needed her mother's voice and reassurance, but she did not want to sound weak, wounded, and vulnerable. The relief came from the sudden realization that she had just been freed from a job she despised. Tonight at seven she might be watching a movie or having dinner with friends, not slaving away at the office with the meter running. This Sunday she could leave the city with no thoughts whatsoever about Andy Grubman and the pile of paperwork for his next crucial deal. The FirmFone, a monstrous little gadget that had been glued to her body for three years now, had been surrendered. She felt liberated and wonderfully unburdened.The fear came from the loss of income and the sudden detour in her career. As a third-year associate, she was earning $180,000 a year in base salary, plus a nice bonus. A lot of money, but life in the city had a way of devouring it. Half evaporated in taxes. She had a savings account, one she halfheartedly acknowledged. When you're twenty-nine, single, and free in the city, in a profession where next year's package will exceed this year's salary plus bonus, why worry too much about saving money? She had a friend from Columbia Law who'd been at S&P for five years, had just made junior partner, and would earn about half a million this year. Samantha had been on that track.She also had friends who jumped off the treadmill after twelve months and happily fled the awful world of Big Law. One was now a ski instructor in Vermont, a former editor of the Columbia Law Review, a refugee from the bowels of S&P who lived in a cabin by a stream and rarely answered his cell. In just thirteen months he had gone from an ambitious young associate to a mildly deranged idiot who slept at his desk. Just before HR intervened, he cracked up and left the city. Samantha thought of him often, usually with a twinge of jealousy.

Editorial Reviews

“An important new novel . . . Grisham’s work—always superior entertainment—is evolving into something more serious, more powerful, more worthy of his exceptional talent.” —Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post   “John Grisham makes a powerful closing argument against Big Coal, but the message never obscures a satisfying, old fashioned, good guy-bad guy legal thriller.” —Christian Science Monitor   “Grisham has written one of his best legal dramas in quite some time with this dive into small-town politics. There's a mystery, but that's a minor portion of the story. The main thrust that will engage readers is Samantha Kofer and the cast of characters that help her discover her passion.” —Associated Press