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Sycamore Row | [John Grisham]

Sycamore Row

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?
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Thriller/Suspense, 2014

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 25 years after the publication of A Time to Kill.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, a note from the author will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.


©2013 John Grisham (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-23-13
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-23-13 Member Since 2012

    So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.

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    "Grisham at his best (again)"

    This is a Grisham book you don't want to pass on. In the 90's I loved reading his early works- The Firm, A Time to Kill, and The Pelican Brief, but slowly his books seemed to lose their luster. They've always been enjoyable to read, but not like his early writings I fell in love with.

    In Sycamore Row Grisham goes back to Clanton, Mississippi, the scene of A Time to Kill, and reconnects us with Jake Brigance, the struggling lawyer made famous by the Carl Lee Haley trial. His new case immediately takes on a David vs. Goliath feel which emotionally pulls the audience into the story like the best books do. The characters are very well developed, and as the story progresses it will be harder and harder to remove your headphones and rejoin the real world.

    This book is John Grisham at his best. I will be recommending it to everyone I know. This is one of those rare times I wish audible could give me a six-star option.

    182 of 188 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 10-23-13
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 10-23-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Grisham we all loved from the 90's!"

    Ive always enjoyed the compelling storeytelling of John Grisham but have been unimpressed with his last few novels.
    Sycamore Row is classic Grisham that delivers strong character development, descriptive subplots, twists and unforseen turns.
    I was very pleased to see he returned his readers to Clanton, Mississippi a few years after the Carl Lee Haley trial. Ive always wanted a follow up to that novel and now we have one.

    As always, Michael Beck gives a solid narration!

    If this review helped, please press YES. Much appreciated

    195 of 205 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda UT 11-21-13
    Melinda UT 11-21-13 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Inaugural Grisham"

    There are pages of reviews...but I thought Grisham newbies might benefit from another first-timer's view:
    I've always thought to pick up a Grisham novel, but seems they were on the screen before I could choose where to start (sorting out the ones that Hollywood had already translated). Understanding, after-the-fact, that this is a continuation of a previous novel, I realize my choice may not have been very strategic, but I don't think I would have enjoyed this one any more if I had read that novel, and am glad to finally join the throngs of Grisham fans.

    This was a great read written with a focused projection that kept the plot steaming toward a very grand finalé. The characters were colorful without being Southern stereo types; even without knowledge of the prior book, I was able to fill in their personalities and get that familiarization that makes you feel comfy with a book and its inhabitants.

    What sets this courtroom drama apart from the many, is the absolute precision of Grisham as he meticulously builds this story from its roots -- during one of our country's darkest chapters in history. There is never a sense of filler, no characters to just add bulk, or subplots to steer you away from a weak plot line. The story is powerful and spans generations. As the history is uncovered, the characters expand and even become studies of the different shades of humanity. Because of Grisham's own legal background, I expected to be inundated with profession braggadocio, but the actual attitude expressed surprised me as well as kept me on level with all of the legalese.

    My modus operandi may be backassward, but I've already downloaded the prequel, A Time to Kill, and am looking forward to going "back to where it all began." It's no surprise these books made it to the screen before I made it into Barnes & Noble (BA - before Audible).

    96 of 106 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nan Buckingham, VA, United States 11-03-13
    Nan Buckingham, VA, United States 11-03-13 Member Since 2001

    I am a commercial artist working in my studio in central Virginia. Audible keeps me company and extends my painting hours.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best Grisham Yet!"
    What did you love best about Sycamore Row?

    As in all of John Grisham's stories, the "Sense of Place". He nails the ambiance of rural Mississippi and the interaction of the characters to a T.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Sycamore Row?

    Loved the courtroom interaction.


    What does Michael Beck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The soft and lovely accents. He handles them beautifully.


    Any additional comments?

    John Grisham knows how to tell a story. The only other author I love as much is the late Bryce Courtenay.

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarai San Diego, CA. 10-23-13
    Sarai San Diego, CA. 10-23-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Finally, another Grisham novel!"
    Any additional comments?

    I am still in the middle of this book but had to write a review because I was surprised that the current rating was only 2 stars. Knowing this had to be an error I purchased this book and am glad I did. As a devoted Grisham fan I was eagerly awaiting this novel. Reading this story feels like going home for a visit, all the same folks that make life interesting. Add to it the amazing storytelling performance of Michael Beck and it's already one of my new favorites.

    59 of 69 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe lexington, KY, United States 05-17-14
    Joe lexington, KY, United States 05-17-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Finally a Complete Story"

    Grisham is a talented author who's recent books lacked the needed kick of a great ending. "Sycamore Row" fulfills the missing element in Grisham's recent novels, a great end. This novel is full of intrigue, drama, characters and a storying that's a page turner. I hope the future presents us with more of the same.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kitty Reno, NV 11-04-13
    Kitty Reno, NV 11-04-13 Member Since 2002

    I am rarely seen without my headphones on and my iPod clipped on my waist. I love my books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As good as it gets..."

    John Grisham is to me, the best author when it comes to the courtroom, legal, lawyer, mystery. I have every book of his that I can get. I have enjoyed each and every one of them. This book was so good, it made me stop and think, "When did I last enjoy a book so much?" Oh, it was a John Grisham book…

    Please do not wait, get this book and share in my excitement. I love a good mystery! Enjoy!

    25 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark O Washington, D.C. 05-01-14
    Mark O Washington, D.C. 05-01-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Superb Narration of Southern Accents, Compelling P"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Sycamore Row?

    The Grisham plot builds and builds around a legal and cultural mystery of, "Why would a Mississippi businessman leave more than $20 million in his will to his black housekeeper while providing nothing for his family"? The ending, as many others have said, will not disappoint. It had me sitting in my car after my commute with the engine turned off, wondering what would happen to convince the jury. The ending did not disappoint.


    What does Michael Beck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Best narration of any audible book I have listened to. The Southern accents are impeccable. He can even do black Southern women fairly convincingly.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did shed a tear as I listened to the riveting scene in which the father of two sons killed by a drunken driver reached out to the family of the driver to say he and his wife are Christians who forgive the man because that's what Christ calls them to do. In the book, this left the lawyer protagonist speechless. It left me thinking about what it truly means to be a Christian. I heard that a few days before Easter and it choked me up.


    Any additional comments?

    The story has lots and lots of legal and courtroom details, such as somewhat tedious reviews of depositions. But these add texture and credibility to the story. Grisham gets close to the line of too much legal explanation and examples but for the most part does not, in my opinion, cross it. A great read and listen!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 10-27-13
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 10-27-13 Member Since 2004

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Powerful Ending"

    I never miss a John Grisham story. I love them, eventhough I know his basic theme is so often the same and just reworked to incorporate a few changes here and there. Rich white guy dies, leaves fortune, cuts family out of will, and hires a lawyer to make sure his wishes are carried out (in this case Jake Brigance.) The publisher's summary gives us all the information to set the stage for the legal battle to ensue---so I won't go into details.

    Overall I thought this novel was pretty bland and didn't have any of those "aha" moments I expected--UNTIl toward the end when I literally could not put the ipod down as I had to see what happened. Everything is explained as the lawyers find a lost piece of the puzzle-- the last deposition was gripping and heart wrenching.

    Great performance by Michael Beck too!

    24 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bull Blacksburg, VA, USA 10-28-13
    Bull Blacksburg, VA, USA 10-28-13 Member Since 2007

    Doctor Bull

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    "Excellent story and narration."

    Grisham takes us back into the courtroom, a setting in which he excels: The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and on and on. Including, of course, the wonderful A Time to Kill (1989) with attorney Jake Brigance. In Sycamore Row Jake is back, this time wrapped up in defending a holographic will.

    This book is a sequel to A Time to Kill only in that the same lawyers -- Harry Rex Vonner, Lucien Wilbanks, Jake -- are back in the same small Mississippi town, but if you've forgotten the earlier book you won't have any problem reading this. A few references to the trial in A Time to Kill are used to establish Jake as a stand-up guy, which is how he gets dragged into the business with the will in the first place. There are also some KKK types who threaten and harass Jake and his family over his defense of a black man in the earlier book, but all the needed backstory is provided.

    The plot is tightly woven and well paced. There are a few elements that seem there just to provide color, like the slick Memphis lawyer who tosses a race-grenade into the courtroom, but then slips from the scene. I do wish Grisham had followed through a bit more with the rednecks, especially the one who was released on parole. I thought for sure that firebrand would be back, and I just love it when they get their comeuppance, but he too was written out of the plot.

    It's a different kind of law than what we usually get in courtroom novels. It centers around a holographic will handwritten by a man on the eve of his suicide by hanging (from a sycamore tree, a fact you should keep in mind). It's established pretty early on that his kids, son and daughter, don't have much time for the old man, so you won't be surprised to learn they don't make out too well in this will. And of course, there's an earlier will out there, all lawyerly and notarized, in which the kids fare much better. Which will wins? Read on.

    Michael Beck is excellent. He has a nice, unaffected style when he's just narrating, and then shows a great range of characterizations of the southerners portrayed here. From my short time living in Mississippi I can say the accents seem quite authentic. Beck gives each of the major characters his own distinct voice and keeps them consistent throughout the book.

    No more free passes for Mister Grisham, not after the hugely disappointing The Broker. Now I approach every new Grisham book as a I would a new author. Interestingly this book is a sequel to one Grisham wrote when he was a new author and yes, it's just as good.

    31 of 39 people found this review helpful
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