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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Sparring Partners

ISBN: 978-0385549325

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 05/31/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

#1 New York Times bestselling author John Grisham is the acknowledged master of the legal thriller. In his first collection of novellas, law is a common thread, but America’s favorite storyteller has several surprises in store.

“Homecoming” takes us back to Ford County, the fictional setting of many of John Grisham’s unforgettable stories. Jake Brigance is back, but he’s not in the courtroom. He’s called upon to help an old friend, Mack Stafford, a former lawyer in Clanton, who three years earlier became a local legend when he stole money from his clients, divorced his wife, filed for bankruptcy, and left his family in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again—until now. Now Mack is back, and he’s leaning on his old pals, Jake and Harry Rex, to help him return. His homecoming does not go as planned.

In “Strawberry Moon,” we meet Cody Wallace, a young death row inmate only three hours away from execution. His lawyers can’t save him, the courts slam the door, and the governor says no to a last-minute request for clemency. As the clock winds down, Cody has one final request.

The “Sparring Partners” are the Malloy brothers, Kirk and Rusty, two successful young lawyers who inherited a once prosperous firm when its founder, their father, was sent to prison. Kirk and Rusty loathe each other, and speak to each other only when necessary. As the firm disintegrates, the resulting fiasco falls into the lap of Diantha Bradshaw, the only person the partners trust. Can she save the Malloys, or does she take a stand for the first time in her career and try to save herself?

By turns suspenseful, hilarious, powerful, and moving, these are three of the greatest stories John Grisham has ever told.

My Review

John Grisham returns with his first collection of novellas SPARRING PARTNERS regarding the ins and outs of the law and some moral crossing lines between good and evil.

"Homecoming" is a favorite and most intriguing since it takes us back to Ford County and Jake Brigance. When called to help out an old friend, Mack Stafford (former lawyer), who stole money from his clients and disappeared, never to be heard from again (hiding out in Costa Rica on the beach). When Jake gets a surprise visit with word from Mack, he gets stuck in the middle and leans on his old friends for help. But can he go back and pick up life with his daughters like nothing happened? The story does not wrap up with a bow and leaves us hanging with our thoughts. I would love for this story to be continued with Jake Brigance/Mack!

"Strawberry Moon" is an emotional sad story of a death row inmate, which is always a popular topic in the South. An engaging story about a 29-year-old death row inmate Cody Wallace, who is hours away from being executed. Incarcerated for a home invasion that resulted in the deaths of his brother/partner in crime and the two residents of the house they were in the process of burgling, his appeals and requests for clemency have been denied, and now he waits for THE END. You feel for the guy. No one seems to be able to save Cody Wallace, but a guard helps him with his last wish.

"The Sparring Partners" was my least favorite of the novellas and more ruthless. Not a lot of likable characters. The Mallory family is not a very nice one. Kirk and Rusty—brothers, inherited the firm when their father was sent to prison. They would like to keep their dad there. From collusion, deceit, bribery, corruption, and financial fraud. Their sister, Diantha, winds up with an idea to save the day and outsmarts them.

It is an entertaining collection, and thanks for the teaser short stories; however, missing the Grisham punch from his usual full-length stand-alone and legal thriller series. Hope he gets back to the innocence project, and wrongful convictions soon as thoroughly enjoy them.

Still a fan and will read anything he writes!

Thank you to #Doubleday and #NetGalley for an ARC to read, review, and enjoy.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: May 31, 2022


“John Grisham is about as good a storyteller as we’ve got in the United States these days.”

—The New York Times Book Review

"Grisham’s work—always superior entertainment—is evolving into something more serious, more powerful, more worthy of his exceptional talent."

—The Washington Post

“The law, by its nature, creates drama, and a new Grisham promises us an inside look at the dirty machineries of process and power, with plenty of entertainment.”

—Los Angeles Times

“A legal literary legend.”

—USA Today

About the Author

John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge's List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.

Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.

When he's not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.

John lives on a farm in central Virginia.







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