I have to admit, that I haven’t read A Time To Kill, the first book of the Jake Brigance series, for whatever reason. But I´ve watched the movie some years ago. Okay, it´s not the same as to read a book, but in this case, it was better than not knowing anything at all. There are a few scenes where the author recalls some things that happened in the first book, Jake thinks about those things and their aftereffects which led to his financial situation and where he and his family now live. It´s not an ideal situation, but they´re alive – and that´s all that matters.

Sycamore Row
by John Grisham
Jake Brigance Series #2
Publisher Bantam on August 19, 2014
Genre Thriller
Pages 464
Format Paperback
Source Library

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County´s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?
Jake Brigance, the most famous lawyer Ford County has, receives one morning a mysterious letter that contains the last will of one of the richest men in the county: Seth Hubbard. The old and sick man, who hanged himself only hours before, tells Jake what he wants him to do and how to do it. No money for his family, but almost everything inherits his housekeeper Lettie.

In Sycamore Row the author shows how White and Black people live together in Dixieland during the eighties in the countryside or better said: try to. `Cause the blacks are still underprivileged and some things are just not meant to be happening for them. Inherit a huge amount of money is one of them.

Within days after the funeral, Jake finds himself in a case, where nothing else but money counts and where the children of the deceased start fighting an ugly battle to get what they think they deserve more than anybody else in the world: The millions from their father. John Grisham´s writing style is steady, he doesn´t need loud tones. A fine irony comes through the lines and the thriller seems to be told by an invisible narrator. There are a lot of scenes where I had to smile because of what Jake thought or said to someone. And judge Atlee is one heck of a fantastic judge. Though he sometimes makes decisions Jake doesn´t agree with.

Judge Atlee is one of those judges, who had a great career as a lawyer. Fine, he had something happen during his time as a lawyer and no one is good-advised if he reminds the judge of that, but other than that? No problem at all. He rules with an iron hand, says what he´ll allow in his court and what not and that he´s the only king in there. The scene with one of those many lawyers where he proofs exactly that was one hell of a great scene.

Jake is a man, who went through a lot. The Carl Lee Hailey case three years back has not only brought him fame but money problems as well. He uses in a nice and charming way his look to get what he wants from others but never in a bad way. So he does something, no one other would´ve probably done: He gives a young black woman a job and a chance to prove herself to the job. He has his principles; he wants to earn money and to be able to live a better life with his family than he does currently. But for as long as the trial continues, he has to measure carefully if his actions will put him in conflict with his work as a defender of Seth Hubbard´s legacy. And not every good meant advice is welcomed to him. Not even from judge Atlee itself.

Well, this was a wonderful book which I enjoyed very much. And I am sure, that I´ll read the first book of this series as well – as soon as I have the time for it. Until then I´ll recommend Sycamore Row for everyone who´s loving John Grisham or a good thriller at all.

Happy reading

John Grisham
©Billy Hunt
John Grisham, born in 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, graduated from law school at Ole Miss in 1981. After practicing law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specialized in criminal defense and personal injury litigation, he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1983, and served until 1990. A day at the DeSoto County courthouse, where he overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim inspired him to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl´s father had murdered her assailants. Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5.000 copy printing and published it in June 1988. It followed The Firm, which he sold the film rights to Paramount Picture and the book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on the New Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991. With The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, Grisham confirmed his reputation as the master of the legal thriller. There are currently over 300 million of his books in print worldwide; translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films. 


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