John Grisham, Doubleday, 384 pages
John Grisham has been writing legal thrillers and dramas that resonate with readers for almost 25 years, and his latest continues the theme of ordinary people who work in the law profession experiencing a crisis of conscience.
“Gray Mountain” introduces readers to Samantha Kofer, who is working for a giant Wall Street law firm when the financial world collapses in 2008. She goes to work in a legal clinic in rural Virginia without pay, with the possibility of returning to her old firm in a year when money woes should have eased.
The town of Brady, Va., has a population small enough to insure that everyone knows everyone else. Kofer becomes involved in helping those who can’t afford legal help. She also learns some big secrets involving the people she has grown to care about and what companies will do for profit.
Grisham has written one of his best legal dramas in quite some time with this dive into small-town politics.
Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel
Debbie Macomber, Ballantine Books, 255 pages
How has Debbie Macomber inhabited bestseller lists for decades and sold more than 170 million books with nary a vampire, wizard, sadomasochistic couple, futuristic teenage dystopia or serial killer in her pages?
Macomber instead writes about romance, family and friendship with a gentle, humorous touch, and her fans respond. She has published more than 150 books, and Hallmark Channel’s Cedar Cove, based on books in Macomber’s series of that name, is the No. 1 cable TV series in its Saturday night time slot.
“Mr. Miracle,” is the 10th in her Angels series. It does boast supernatural characters – Harry Mills is an angel on his first earthly assignment, in the guise of a community college English teacher. Harry has studied humans and is confident about his ability to help them – maybe too confident. He chafes at having to report to a supervisor, even more so when he discovers her human form is that of Celeste Chapeaux, a tattooed, pierced barista.
But he still thinks smoothing out the life of his subject will be a breeze. Addie Folsom quit school as a dyslexic teen and took off for Montana. Now, six years later, she returns home to Seattle for Christmas. She also hopes to get her education rolling again, which lands her in Harry’s class, where she’s nonplussed by how much her teacher seems to know about her. At home, she has to deal with Erich Simmons, the neighbor kid who used to tease her mercilessly – although both of them are grown up now.
It won’t come as a surprise to her fans that Macomber knits Addie’s education – and Harry’s – into a pleasing pattern.