A Book by John Grisham
This is a sequel to another Grisham book, ‘A Time to Kill’. It is set in Ford County just like in the first book and Jake Briggance make another appearance in this one book as the main legal counsel.
The story is about Seth Hubbard who gets diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and decides to end his life instead of waiting for his inevitable painful end at the hands of the disease. He commits suicide and leaves behind a hand written will leaving almost everything to his black housekeeper, Lettie Lang. Needless to say, cutting out his children and grandchildren does not go down well and his family immediately contests the will. The contest because more heated when it is revealed that Hubbard’s estate was valued at an estimated cost of 20 million dollars.
The story, much like all of John Grisham’s books, revolves around the court room drama, in this case the will contest. Hubbard’s family tries all tactics to get the will thrown out while Briggance who is representing Seth’s estate, has to ensure that Seth’s wishes are carried out as spelt out in the will.
I love Grisham’s books because they are usually fast paced and there are always a number of twists to keep you turning the pages. However, I did struggle getting through some parts of this book. There were areas that had too many stories that didn’t quite progress the plot. For instance, on jury selection, I felt that too much time and detail went into this part. The information did little to move the story.
I also had an issue with the portrayal of Jake Briggance. In “A Time to Kill’, he played a key role in winning the case. However, in Sycamore Row, I felt as if he was carried by others. Judge Atlee seemed to be behind most of Briggance’s moves in courts. Although it was explained that the Judge favored Briggance more than the ‘outsiders’, it would have been nice to have Briggance fight his own battles. In the end, it also seemed that the case was once again rescued by Lucien, Briggance old partner. As a main character, Jake Briggance was not very pivotal in moving the plot.
However, as always, Grisham did not fail to deliver suspense and a few twists that made the book interesting to read. The main twist being the reason behind Seth Hubbard’s decision to leave everything to Lettie. This is one thing that got me reading to the end. Unfortunately, the end was an anti-climax for me.
Sycamore Row was definitely not one of my favourite John Grisham book. Nevertheless, it is worth checking out.