There are few authors as well known, and is well-liked, as John Grisham. I suppose this review is a bit biased since I have read several in years past and one of them, ‘A Time To Kill’, is most certainly on everyone’s top 10 list of favorites. ‘Sycamore Row’ follows in the footsteps of many of Grisham’s classics in that it’s centered in a southern town (Mississippi) and, as with practically all of Grisham’s books, it includes a downtrodden but admirable young attorney caught up in the middle of a storm of controversy.
In fact, ‘ Sycamore Row’ is a sequel to ‘A Time To Kill’ and it continues to story of Jake Brigance, the lawyer who was central to that story. This time around Mr. Brigance is embroiled in the suicide of a Mississippi timber tycoon who, weeks before his inevitable death from cancer, hangs himself from a large sycamore tree on his vast estate and, in a handwritten will, leaves most of his fortune to his housekeeper, who happens to be black. While the book is set in 1988, it’s obvious that the scandal of a white man, cutting his entire family out, and leaving most of it to a black woman is just as palpable as if in the 1960′s.
What’s interesting in ‘Sycamore Row’ is that Grisham’s flair for the comical is on full view, especially when dealing with the dead man’s adult children. It’s not often that I read a Grisham novel and find myself chuckling out loud but with this book I did on several occasions. And honestly, I had several emotions throughout the book. My jaw was dropped a time or two, I was angry a couple of times and I just couldn’t stop reading it! In fact, it took me two days to finish it!
Like I said I am biased towards his books but I believe this is up at the top for me. I love the character of Jake Brigance probably because he’s an “honest lawyer” and one of the few truly noble people in a town filled with sharks, racists and miscreants. As a sequel it nicely continues the story of one of Grisham’s most beloved characters but, on its own, it’s a wonderful example of a true master at work. Two thumbs up y’all!
You can buy this book at walmart in hardback and paperback, at well under $20 bucks.
Disclosure: I am an official Walmart Mom. Walmart has provided me with compensation and gift card in return for my time & efforts to create this post. Opinions are my own, always.