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Sycamore Row Hardcover – 22 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (22 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444765566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444765564
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,892 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description


Sycamore Row bristles with all the old authority....It's good to see the troubled attorney back (Independent)

As with earlier books by Grisham, what we are given here is the purest of unvarnished storytelling. Grisham has no truck with any studied elegance of style; he is more in touch with the strategies played out in the books of such predecessors as Erle Stanley Gardner and his dogged attorney, Perry Mason. But he knows that modern readers require a conflicted, multifaceted hero, and that he provides in Jake Brigance. It's good to see the troubled attorney back. (The Independent)

A solid courtroom thriller with plenty to say about the long half-life of prejudice in the deep south... The much-trailed conclusion is powerful. (Guardian)

a gripping read (Jessica Mann Literary Review)

Indebted to William Faulkner and Victorian legacy novels, it is Deep South storytelling at its most leisurely, delighting in multiplying subplots and minor characters. (John Dugdale The Sunday Times)

Book Description

'Fight them, Mr Brigance. To the bitter end. We must prevail.'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By BobH on 10 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
‘Sycamore Row’(2013) by John Grisham is a sequel to ‘A Time To Kill’ (1989) and includes several allusions to the earlier work. However, there are homages to his other works by this prolific (and very successful!) author, such as ‘The Runaway Jury’, ‘The Testament’ and (really a sort of prequel) ‘The Summons’. So really it’s more of the same to the delight of his fans such as myself. Again it’s a legal David takes on Goliath in courtroom conflict – or, more accurately, defies ten opponents.
There are certain weaknesses. One red herring turns out to be really a damp squib and the ‘deus ex machina’ (to use a theatrical term) I basically guessed about 300 pages before it appeared. Jake Brigance (the hero) has a far too cosy relationship with the judge, legal help seems to fall into his lap, and the sides are definitely black and white with never a shade of grey between them,
Even so, I was really hooked, especially by the odd twists inserted to upset the steady progress of justice and moved by the final revelation, even though guessed some time before.
Just as I’ve learned horse racing from Trevor Francis and late18th century naval warfare from Patrick O’Brien, I’m learning US Law – and the terrifying mass of lawyers, paralegals and court procedures from John Grisham.
So, well done, Mr.. Grisham 5 stars and I look forward to buying your next book.
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148 of 153 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Utley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
John Grisham keeps veering between writing exceptionally bad books for children (the Theodore Boone series) and outstandingly good legal thrillers for adults. This comes into the latter category.

We were first introduced to Jake Brigance, an idealistic and very poor lawyer, in A Time to Kill. He is still practising law in a small town in the deep south of America. Things are not going all that well for him. After his triumph in the murder trial which featured in A Time to Kill, the Klan has burned down his house and he, his wife and young daughter are living in reduced circumstances. The insurance company is refusing to pay for his destroyed house. Work (or paying work) is almost non-existent. The outlook is pretty bleak.

Then something happens. Seth Hubbard, an elderly (white) man in the final stages of lung cancer commits suicide, by hanging himself. The day before doing that he writes out a new will naming his black housekeeper as principal beneficiary and specifically excluding his children and grandchildren. He posts the will to Jake, whom he has never met, and charges him with the duty of championing it. Though no one realised it during his life time, Seth was a very rich man. His estate is worth more than $20M.

Seth's rather disagreeable son and daughter decide, not surprisingly, to challenge the will. They, in a rather quaint American phrase, "lawyer up". Before too many days have passed the town's court house is packed with greedy lawyers, all on contingency fees, who are determined to prove that Seth didn't know what he was doing when he left his vast fortune to a black servant.

It would be wrong to say more about the plot, save that the end is entirely predictable (and none the worse for that).
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Jones TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
What a book. It is some time since I have read a John Grisham, Mainly because I had pretty much read them all. When I fell across this one in the library I grabbed it and read it as soon as I got home. Now I started it on Saturday night and spent ally day Sunday reading it. I was actually planning on working on my website rather than reading, so that will show you how good this book is.

Jake Brigance is a lawyer who we met in one of Grisham's previous books. Brigance is white. He is asked by Seth Hubbard, who is also white, to deal with his final will. Seth has left all his money to his black housekeeper, and this is in historically racial Mississippi. As can be understood, the dead man's family are not happy about this and object. This leads to an outstanding legal thriller. The story line is superb and moves the book along a t cracking pace. The characters are so well drawn that they seem to leap of the page. Some of them are eccentric, and one of those whom I particularly liked was the judge. We need judges like this in real life. Lettie Lang, the housekeeper is also a great character who finds herself both bewildered and excited about what is happening to her.

This is no dry courtroom drama. There are twists and turns aplenty which keep you reading 'just one more chapter'. I may not have finished my website, but I have read a book which I can now highly recommend.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've not read a John Grisham novel for a very long time but was tempted by his new book Sycamore Row which is a sequel to his very first book published in 1989, A Time to Kill. In the first novel we see young attorney Jake Brignance defending Carl Lee Hailey, who has murdered two white racists who have raped and terribly injured his ten-year old daughter. Jake takes on Carl Lee's defence but as a result, the Mississippi Ku Klux Klan pursue a vendetta against him, leading to Jake being shot at and his house and property torched. A Time to Kill made John Grisham's name as a crime writer unafraid to tackle the most inflammatory topics and he has had a hugely successful career as a result, publishing about 30 best-selling novels.

It has taken John Grisham 25 years to return to Ford County but the events described in it happened only three years on from those in A Time to Kill. We find ourselves in 1989 and Jake is now living with his family in poor rented accommodation while he tries to get adequate insurance compensation for the arson attack on his home. While he has won general acclaim for his work in the Hailey trial, it has not brought him success among the highly conservative population who tend to employ more established legal firms for advice and litigation.

The book opens with an employee of a local businessman, Seth Hubbard, being told to meet his boss one Sunday afternoon. The employee finds Seth hanging by the neck from a sycamore tree on his estate. He has been suffering from terminal lung cancer which has become too painful to bear and he has ended his life quickly but shockingly.
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