Book Review: Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Sycamore Row by John Grisham
This is a sequel to John Grisham’s popular novel, A Time to Kill. In Sycamore Row we return to the same courthouse in Clanton, a fictional town in Mississippi, where lawyer Jake Brigance once again finds himself in the middle of a controversial trial that exposes the racial tensions of the town.
The novel opens with the death of Seth Hubbard. He was a wealthy old man dying of lung cancer who decided to commit suicide – and he left behind a handwritten will cutting out his adult children, instead leaving 90 percent of the estate to his black maid.
Of course, the family quickly contest the will, and when people discover the estate is worth a cool $20 million, the lawyers begin circling like sharks. The second will raises a lot of questions. Why would Seth leave most of his fortune to his maid? Was he thinking clearly, or out of his mind on painkillers? And what does a piece of land, once known as Sycamore Row, have to do with this?
This is a compelling, page-turning novel that shows why John Grisham is such a popular novelist. Seth’s greedy family are enjoyably unlikeable, while the maid is a complex character and someone you will really root for. Jake is an ethical lawyer, and the best scenes are set in the courtroom with him pitted against all the other lawyers. There is also an interesting side plot as their team trys to track down the long-lost brother. The book speeds along with plenty of drama, and the ending is moving and thought-provoking and takes the book into another category than just being a legal thriller.
By the way, you don’t need to read A Time to Kill to enjoy this new book – but I think if you haven’t read the first book you will want to read it next. Arguably these two novels are the best John Grisham has written.