Sycamore Row

Sycamore Row - John Grisham I had read A Time to Kill quite some time back. Though Sycamore Row can be treated as a stand-alone, I was under the impression that it’s a continuation of A Time to Kill and loved this chance to pick it up again. There are quite a few returning characters and as such brushing up again would also be a good idea.

Seth Hubbard, a rich businessman, was suffering from Lung Cancer. He decided to make a new will before committing suicide. That shouldn’t raise many eyebrows, except there are a few catches. This new will is handwritten, excludes his family and names Jake Brigance as the executor! Yeah… And the best part is that Seth excluded his family and passed on 90% of his wealth to his black housemaid… Double yeah! While Seth’s family rushes to contest the will, Jake is left to defend the will and its beneficiary; he must also find answers to so many questions – Why was he named as the executor? Why did Seth change his will at the last minute? Why did Seth choose to kill himself on the desolate piece of land known as Sycamore Row? And what did Seth and his brother witness and what effect did that have on the whole situation?

As a backlash of Jake’s previous case, where he successfully defended a black man accused of murder of the white rapists of his ten year old daughter, there is high racial tension in town. So, Seth’s decision to cut out his family for a black housemaid fed to this tension. But Jake Brigance once again handled his case brilliantly and proved to us that he is a character worth having us cheering in his corner. The pace of this novel is somewhat slow. But the 540-something pages are justified in building up the plot in a way so that as readers’ we can feel the tension and the pressure building up. Plus the twists in the end make it totally worth it.

I was feeling quite disappointed with Grisham’s works recently. Though they have their own place, the Theodore Boone series doesn’t really do justice to Grisham’s full potential. Sycamore Row comes just in time to remind us and to bring us a taste of what we were actually missing.