Feb 18, 2014

Review: Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Unabridged Audio Version)

(No spoilers are included in my reviews)
Admittedly, I stepped away from Grisham's novels several years ago after reading eighteen of them as soon as they each were published. I was one of his biggest fans. Then suddenly, I wasn't loving them as much as I once had. I'm not sure if I grew tired of the stories or if the stories grew tiresome, but when SYCAMORE ROW came out recently, something about it sparked an interest in me that hadn't been there in awhile. I had to read it.

About the Book: (from the author's website)

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? 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 Thoughts:
When A TIME TO KILL came out, though it was Grisham's first novel, it wasn't released until after THE FIRM, so I was already a huge fan. Jake Brigance was a terrific character in that book and was made even bigger when Matthew McConaughey brought him to life on the big screen in the motion picture. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see that character been brought back for this novel. 
The first paragraph of the book grabbed me right away. The visual Grisham painted was stunning, and not in a good way. It set the bar high for my expectations from that point on. The story takes place three years after the infamous trial where we first met Jake and I felt it was perfectly suited for the story and made it all seem like a natural progression. 
Seth Hubbard's story was engaging and, like all Grisham novels, methodically told. There were a lot of facts and they were brought out in a well-timed manner. Grisham is a wonderful storyteller and I enjoyed being taken back into the lives of some of the people of Clanton, Mississippi and to also see that time doesn't move as quickly down there in that small southern town. 
John Grisham has always had a knack for creating remarkable characters that enrich his stories and that was proven once again here. He brought back a few from the first Brigance novel and introduced some new faces that were equally as entertaining. I found myself matching the voices of the character from the book to the actors I remembered from the earlier film, probably because I was listening to an audiobook and it just seemed to flow that way naturally for me. Speaking of the audio vesrion, I can't say enough about Michael Beck, who did the narration for this book. He was amazing! He did all the voices and did them so well. I remember him as an actor as well so it was nice to have that familiar connection with him. 
I don't know if Grisham has more books planned for Jake Brigance, but since he's calling SYCAMORE ROW book two, I'm assuming there will be more to come. If so, I will definitely be on board. In fact, I'd also love to see Matthew McConaughey reprise his role...but maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part! 
The bottom line is that I really enjoyed this book and it made me realize how much I'd missed John Grisham. I have many of his later novels but haven't read them. Maybe its time I give them a try. if you're looking for an engrossing book written by a master story teller I highly recommend SYCAMORE ROW.  

SYCAMORE ROW (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: John Grisham
Narrator: Michael Beck
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: October 22, 2013
Length: 20 hrs 50 mins
Recommend? ABSOLUTELY!


  1. I loved A Time to Kill and am excited to see Jake is back too. I've got this on audio and look forward to reading it.

  2. I loved A Time To Kill, but Grisham has been hit or miss for me since then. I like that he's brought Jake back. I might actually pick this one up!


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