Sycamore Row

Hardcover | October 22, 2013

byJohn Grisham

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John Grisham takes you back to where it all began . . .

John Grisham's A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. Now we return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial-a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history.

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?

In Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to the setting and the compelling characters that first established him as America's favorite storyteller. Here, in his most assured and thrilling novel yet, is a powerful testament to the fact that Grisham remains the master of the legal thriller, nearly twenty-five years after the publication of A Time to Kill.

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From the Publisher

John Grisham takes you back to where it all began . . . John Grisham's A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. Now we return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial-a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County ...

JOHN GRISHAM is the author of twenty-six novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and four novels for young readers. www.doubleday.comwww.jgrisham.comwww.facebook.com/JohnGrisham

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.4 inPublished:October 22, 2013Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385537131

ISBN - 13:9780385537131

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Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Far from his usual standards I bought this when it first came out for my mum's birthday and then she gave it to me to read the other week. To be honest we were both less than impressed. We have every one of his books and absolutely love them but this one we both found hard to get stuck into. There was nothing particularly gripping, I'd already figured out what the end was by 2/3 of the way through so there was no surprise. I didn't find any of the characters likeable so I felt myself not really caring who got the money. I have to say the thing that really frustrated me the most about this book was the repetitiveness of it. He repeats the same things over and over and over... yes we get it, the Hailey trial... no need to keep reminding us every chapter! Anyway, usually I love his books but I really didn't care for this one.
Date published: 2014-05-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotional! Emotional and powerful story! It pulled me in and kept me reading late into the night with its twists and strong characters.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great novel- John Grisham is a great storyteller. He knows what he is doing. This novel is well done from the beginning to the end. Amazing time reading this book. Amazing. This is my first time reading this kind of (popular) author and I am loving this way to write.  I have been reading another two books at the same time and this novel grab my total attention. 
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sycamore Row Like so many other Grisham readers, I, too, have every book he has written. In this latest one, the master story-teller has outdone himself! Although we know it is fiction, even the most jaded, staunchest, stoic reader of fiction will be tempted to brush away a tear or two when reading this fantastic story! 
Date published: 2014-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sycamore Row Story engaging...however.....repetitive  use of the word "sips" becomes distractive.  Page after page......24 x by p124 .  Does this not bother anyone else???????
Date published: 2013-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! Another stunning story from Mr. Grisham. Back to his first book with enough information to take you back to his first novel. I have every book he's written, in hard copy, and the only complaint I have is that he only writes one per year. This latest novel does not disappoint. Bravo, Mr. Grisham.
Date published: 2013-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Twenty five years ago, the initial print run of John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was 5000 copies. His second novel propelled him onto the bestseller lists - where every subsequent novel has landed. In his latest novel, Sycamore Row, Grisham takes us back to Clanton, Mississippi and his first character - 'street lawyer' Jake Brigance. Three years ago, in 1985, Jake successfully defended a black man accused of murder - the murder of the white rapists of his ten year old daughter. The trial and verdict divided the town and racial tension still runs high. I was waiting for just the right time to crack the spine of Sycamore Row. (Figuratively speaking of course because I would never hurt a book. ;) I just knew that once I started, I wouldn't want to put it down. And I was right - I was hooked from the opening lines.... "They found Seth Hubbard in the general area where he had promised to be, though not exactly in the condition expected. He was at the end of a rope, six feet off the ground and twisting slightly in the wind." It turns out that reclusive Seth was extremely wealthy. And that he changed his will in the days before his death. His new handwritten will lands in the office of Jake Brigance, delivered by mail the day after Seth's death. Hubbard has cut out his children and left the bulk of his estate to his housekeeper of three years - a black woman named Lettie Lang. Jake doesn't know Seth Hubbard but is determined to follow Seth's instructions to the letter of the law. By doing so, he's in for another fight.... Oh man! I loved it, loved it, loved it!!! Nobody does legal thrillers like Grisham. Really, you don't even need the 'legal' qualifier. Grisham is pure and simple, one heck of a storyteller. Absolutely one of the best. His prose flow seamlessly, drawing the reader ever deeper into the story and the town of Clanton. I could picture myself sitting at the diner, with Dell pouring coffee, and listening to the latest gossip. The characters are really well drawn. Jake is extremely likable, principled and the kind of lawyer you'd want in your corner. I also quite enjoy the other supporting legal players - drunken, but canny Lucien Wilbanks, the pronouncements of Harry Rex and the astuteness of Sheriff Ozzie Walls. Grisham brings his setting to life - the town, culture, attitudes and more are all detailed and benefit greatly from the author's own past. The legal machinations employed are just as detailed (and interesting) Grisham both grew up in the South and practiced law in Mississippi. The plotting is excellent, the tension palpable and the journey to the final pages and reveal is oh so good. Absolutely addictive reading, Stick this one in your own stocking - five stars for sure!
Date published: 2013-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! Another stellar story from John Grisham. Mr. Grisham has the uncanny ability to draw you in from the very first page. I have purchased all of his books, in hard cover, and my only wish is that he could somehow figure out a way to write two books per year, instead of one! I mark my calendar when I get notice that he is releasing his latest publication and usually pre-order it so it is delivered as soon as it is released. My favorite author ever - was so sorry to turn the final page on this story. Bravo, Mr. Grisham!
Date published: 2013-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Grisham has returned!! I own all of John Grisham novels, and have longed for the old style of writing and story telling. The characters returned with new ideas and mannerisms. The final ending is true Grisham. Thank you John Grisham for this novel.
Date published: 2013-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Glad Grisham returned to Ford County As usual I had a hard time putting it down. Wish he could write faster.
Date published: 2013-11-18

Extra Content

Read from the Book

1They found Seth Hubbard in the general area where he had promised to be, though not exactly in the condition expected. He was at the end of a rope, six feet off the ground and twisting slightly in the wind. A front was moving through and Seth was soaked when they found him, not that it mattered. Someone would point out that there was no mud on his shoes and no tracks below him, so therefore he was probably hanging and dead when the rain began. Why was that important? Ultimately, it was not.The logistics of hanging oneself from a tree are not that simple. Evidently, Seth thought of everything. The rope was three-quarter-inch braided natural Manila, of some age and easily strong enough to handle Seth, who weighed 160 pounds a month earlier at the doctor's office. Later, an employee in one of Seth's factories would report that he had seen his boss cut the fifty-foot length from a spool a week before using it in such dramatic fashion. One end was tied firmly to a lower branch of the same tree and secured with a slapdash mix of knots and lashings. But, they held. The other end was looped over a higher branch, two feet in girth and exactly twenty-one feet from the ground. From there it fell about nine feet, culminating in a perfect hangman's knot, one that Seth had undoubtedly worked on for some time. The noose was straight from the textbook with thirteen coils designed to collapse the loop under pressure. A true hangman's knot snaps the neck, making death quicker and less painful, and apparently Seth had done his homework. Other than what was obvious, there was no sign of a struggle or suffering. A six-foot stepladder had been kicked aside and was lying benignly nearby. Seth had picked his tree, flung his rope, tied it off, climbed the ladder, adjusted the noose, and, when everything was just right, kicked the ladder and fell. His hands were free and dangling near his pockets.Had there been an instant of doubt, of second-guessing? When his feet left the safety of the ladder, but with his hands still free, had Seth instinctively grabbed the rope above his head and fought desperately until he surrendered? No one would ever know, but it looked doubtful. Later evidence would reveal that Seth had been a man on a mission.For the occasion, he had selected his finest suit, a thick wool blend, dark gray and usually reserved for funerals in cooler weather. He owned only three. A proper hanging has the effect of stretching the body, so Seth's trouser cuffs stopped at his ankles and his jacket stopped at his waist. His black wing tips were polished and spotless. His blue necktie was perfectly knotted. His white shirt, though, was stained with blood that had oozed from under the rope. Within hours, it would be known that Seth Hubbard had attended the 11:00 a.m. worship service at a nearby church. He had spoken to acquaintances, joked with a deacon, placed an offering in the plate, and seemed in reasonably good spirits. Most folks knew Seth was battling lung cancer, though virtually no one knew the doctors had given him a short time to live. Seth was on several prayer lists at the church. However, he carried the stigma of two divorces and would always be tainted as a true Christian. His suicide would not help matters.The tree was an ancient sycamore Seth and his family had owned for many years. The land around it was thick with hardwoods, valuable timber Seth had mortgaged repeatedly and parlayed into wealth. His father had acquired the land by dubious means back in the 1930s. Both of Seth's ex-wives had tried valiantly to take the land in the divorce wars, but he held on. They got virtually everything else.First on the scene was Calvin Boggs, a handyman and farm laborer Seth had employed for several years. Early Sunday morning, Calvin had received a call from his boss. "Meet me at the bridge at 2:00 p.m.," Seth said. He didn't explain anything and Calvin was not one to ask questions. If Mr. Hubbard said to meet him somewhere at a certain time, then he would be there. At the last minute, Calvin's ten-year-old boy begged to tag along, and, against his instincts, Calvin said yes. They followed a gravel road that zigzagged for miles through the Hubbard property. As Calvin drove, he was certainly curious about the meeting. He could not remember another occasion when he met his boss anywhere on a Sunday afternoon. He knew his boss was ill and there were rumors he was dying, but, like everything else, Mr. Hubbard kept it quiet. The bridge was nothing more than a wooden platform spanning a nameless, narrow creek choked with kudzu and crawling with cottonmouths. For months, Mr. Hubbard had been planning to replace it with a large concrete culvert, but his bad health had sidetracked him. It was near a clearing where two dilapidated shacks rotted in the brush and overgrowth and offered the only hint that there was once a small settlement there.Parked near the bridge was Mr. Hubbard's late-model Cadillac, its driver's door open, along with the trunk. Calvin rolled to a stop behind the car and stared at the open trunk and door and felt the first hint that something might be out of place. The rain was steady now and the wind had picked up, and there was no good reason for Mr. Hubbard to leave his door and trunk open. Calvin told his boy to stay in the truck, then slowly walked around the car without touching it. There was no sign of his boss. Calvin took a deep breath, wiped moisture from his face, and looked at the landscape. Beyond the clearing, maybe a hundred yards away, he saw a body hanging from a tree. He returned to his truck, again told the boy to stay inside and keep the doors locked, but it was too late. The boy was staring at the sycamore in the distance."Stay here now," Calvin said sternly. "And don't get out of the truck.""Yes sir."Calvin began walking. He took his time as his boots slipped in the mud and his mind tried to stay calm. What was the hurry? The closer he got the clearer things became. The man in the dark suit at the end of the rope was quite dead. Calvin finally recognized him, and he saw the stepladder, and he quickly put the scene and the events in order. Touching nothing, he backed away and returned to his truck. It was October of 1988, and car phones had finally arrived in rural Mississippi. At Mr. Hubbard's insistence, Calvin had one installed in his truck. He called the Ford County sheriff's office, gave a brief report, and began waiting. Warmed by the heater and soothed by Merle Haggard on the radio, Calvin gazed through the windshield, ignored the boy, tapped his fingers along with the wipers, and realized he was crying. The boy was afraid to speak.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for the novels of John Grisham   "John Grisham is about as good a storyteller as we've got in the United States these days." —The New York Times Book Review "John Grisham is exceptionally good at what he does—indeed, right now in this country, nobody does it better." —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post "Grisham is a marvelous storyteller who works readers the way a good trial lawyer works a jury." —Philadelphia Inquirer "John Grisham owns the legal thriller." —The Denver Post "John Grisham is not just popular, he is one of the most popular novelists of our time. He is a craftsman and he writes good stories, engaging characters, and clever plots." —Seattle Times "A legal literary legend." —USA Today