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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Sycamore Row

Series: Jake Brigance #2
ISBN: 0345543246
Narrated by: Michael Beck
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 8/19/2014
Format: Audio
My Rating: 5 Stars
John Grisham takes you back to where it all began. One of the most popular novels of our time, A Time to Kill established John Grisham as the master of the legal thriller. Now we return to Ford County as Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial that exposes a tortured history of racial tension.
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 many more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly?
And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

My Review

No one does riveting and intense courtroom drama, bringing characters to life better than master storyteller, John Grisham—a legal literary legend.
SYCAMORE ROW is worth the wait, as a follow-up to A TIME TO KILL, taking us back to where it all began, with an addictive, and suspenseful superb performance with (Jake Brigance #2) , John Grisham at his best. And who better to tell the story than southern voice, Michael Beck (audiobook) for an epic captivating dynamic duo delivery!
Back in 1988 with A Time to Kill, set in a small town of Clanton, Mississippi, Jake Brigance gave an award-winning performance defending a father who took the law into his own hands with a courthouse shooting of the men who raped his daughter.
Twenty-five years later, Grisham brings to life, a new trial, once again involving racial relations, when small-town attorney, Jake fights for justice in a high-profile case threatening to tear apart this southern town in Mississippi. We are once again reconnected with Jake Brigance, the struggling lawyer made famous by the Carl Lee Haley trial.
Seth Hubbard, is an older rich man who has done very well for himself. He is dying of lung cancer and hangs himself from a sycamore tree. This is only the beginning of what is to come, when his will reveals a shocking and unbelievable announcement. His black maid, Lettie who has taken care of him for years, now is without a job, upon his death. She has not had an easy life with an alcoholic husband and a son currently sitting in jail. (enjoyed this intriguing character).
However the family is shocked to learn they are cut out of the will, and Lettie is to inherit the bulk of his $20 Million estate. Of course, this does not set to well with the family members, nor the people of this town.
Seth Hubbard wrote a new will the day before committing suicide, cancelling out the other wills which left out the greedy children. In the new will, five percent of the estate is to go to Irish Road Christian Church, five percent to his brother, and ninety percent to Lettie Lang.
Of course, with the Carl Lee Hailey case still upfront in the town’s mind, everyone is questioning why this black maid should receive this kind of money. Surely she must be having an affair, or did she coerce him into changing his holographic will at the last minute, or was he out of his mind with this handwritten version?
Jake has never met Hubbard; however, he was requested by Hubbard to carry out his last wishes. Jake’s mentor, Lucien, a disbarred and alcoholic attorney is back to assist with this complex case of figuring out the motive for Hubbard’s changing of the will. Why the change and why Lettie? Is there a past between the two? Everyone knows Seth is a sharp cookie, or else how he could have made millions—he must have a good reason for his change of heart.
What sets this courtroom drama apart from the others is Grisham’s legal expertise, his precision; tightly woven, superb pacing, well drawn characters, and dynamic plotting, as he unravels layer by layer, meticulously.
Having read Grisham’s latest novel GRAY MOUNTAIN, (highly recommend), I have re-discovered I missed a few of his books along the way and some I strongly want to re-read. An avid Grisham fan, over the years, back in the nineties, I never fully appreciated his talents and his voice, as I do today.
Over the course of the years, my reading style has changed, drawing me back to complex legal and crime southern thrillers, my favorite genre. If they involve attorneys, racial injustice, corruption, and intense courtroom scenes, with great storytelling, mixed with humor—I am in my element, totally mesmerized for hours on end, as time stands still.
Highly recommend the audiobook with a full 20 hrs and 50 minutes worth of fast-paced action with an incredible narrator as the perfect voice to convey the intensity of a well-written action packed novel, SYCAMORE ROW, one to add to your collection.






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