John Grisham has a familiar villain in his new novel—an evil corporation with a greedy owner—along with one of his famously intricate plots. But The Appeal stands apart from Grisham's previous works because it also has a message, in this case about the dirty politics of electing judges. "The Appeal delivers a real picture of a real problem," writes Steven Brill in the New York Times. "And, it all goes down easily because he spins it around such a gripping tale."
Grisham's skill in making a complicated plot hum does not, unfortunately, extend to his writing, says Brill, who finds the pages full of cliches and not-so-original turns of phrase. Grisham's description of an "anorexic wife at a charity dinner reads as if someone new to English decided to mimic the Bonfire of the Vanities," he writes.