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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

4.4 (9852 )
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4.4 (8883 )
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4.6 (8874 )
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Performance
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  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 11-14-13
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beg to differ"

    Grisham is not back. While Sycamore Row is slightly better than the author's last novel, the writing is just as lazy. I could not make myself finish it. Quite simply, I was too bored! Plus, the stereotypical portrayal of blacks and "rednecks" is hard to take. Even the 'smart' black woman who manages to crawl out of the family garbage to become the lawyer's secretary is a stereotype -- and perhaps there so that people don't outright protest Mr. Grisham's condescension/racist portrayals. The narrator might be making it worse (making every black and/or poor character sound mildly retarded), but I don't think so.

    Then there's the question of the "hero." He makes it quite clear that his main preoccupation is his own financial situation, so not much there to admire. (At one point he convinces the beneficiary that she does not need her own lawyer….but when there's an offer of a settlement, he says to the other attorneys that he does not have to relay the offer to her because he is not her lawyer. So he duped her? So much for hero.)

    However, like I said, the reason I could not finish it was mainly boredom. SO predictable. In fact, I got halfway through and I can pretty much tell you what the (SPOILER ALERT, even though I have not finished the book:) "surprise" ending will be: the long lost brother is found; it will turn out that he and his brother witnessed a horrific crime by their family against Lettie's family -- possible their father raping Lettie's mother; that is why the old man left her the money. So there. I could not put up with another 6 hours to hear what I am sure I pretty much guessed hours ago.

    I plan to get my credit back.

    25 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 10-27-13
    Jacqueline 10-27-13

    Listen or Read - it's all good. Nesbo, Verndon, Adler-Olsen, McCammon, Galbraith and Robotham are some of my favorite author's lately

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John tallevast, FL, United States 10-29-14
    John tallevast, FL, United States 10-29-14 Member Since 2011

    List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It started off good.... But then"

    I looked at a ton of reviews and I thought I should give it a try. By the time I was a few hours in - I thought I made the right choice & was calling everyone that gave a bad review crazy. I thought they were beating John Grisham up because it wasn't 'A time to kill' - After 'The innocent Man' I thought I was done with John Grisham, but I was swayed by reviewers for this book. Let me say that Michael Beck was awesome! He was the Only reason I hung in... I was ready to turn off after 3/4ths of the book - But I already invested 17hrs.... The problem with writers of Grishams intelligence and ability in my opinion - Is that they must think we are all dumb - Or he would have made this book smarter. I'm just a pool guy from Sarasota Fl and I'm pretty sure I could give Jake (The main character) a run for his money in a court room. I think John Grisham was so focused on the big suprise ending that he let the trial fall apart in a terrible way. I wouldn't want Jake as my lawyer. He folded like a lawn chair at every turn. I would have killed (Verbally) the suprise people that apposing counel brought in to testify. I would have murdered (Verbally) Seth's kids. I would have also pushed for the fact that 2 dying people leaving a care taker money wouldn't be strange - When they were the only ones taking care of the dying people... It would have been the only argument needed - And it was never brought up. Jake sucked as an attorney and the drunk guy in the story did save his case.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bette Gustine, CA, United States 01-17-14
    Bette Gustine, CA, United States 01-17-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hang in there...you'll finally like it."

    Like most of Grisham books, they drag on and on. Most end without a real ending, but this one does. Why does this book get so many 5 star reviews?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Brown Sacramento, CA USA 11-22-13
    L. Brown Sacramento, CA USA 11-22-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Don't Believe the Hype about this book"
    What disappointed you about Sycamore Row?

    This was the longest, most repetitive, non climatic book I have listened to. And not a good follow up to A Time to Kill. The book was 20 hours. I would have liked to have known more about Seth's life or seth as a person. What made Seth hate his kids or his kids not be there for him. He did cut them out of 20 million. Letty was only 47! He described her as this old lady. Over and over the trial from A Time to Kill was mentioned. But for no good reason. If you are going to listen to this anyway, listen to the Abridged version.


    What could John Grisham have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Cut the book down. Stop repeating himself. They must have read that handwritten will over and over.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Beck’s performances?

    If the book is interesting, yes.


    What character would you cut from Sycamore Row?

    Letty's husband. That was a useless side story.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is boring. And the big climax was not so climatic.

    17 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Galadriel 11-29-13
    Galadriel 11-29-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sorry, but I'm disappointed in this one"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Grisham is still a good storyteller, but halfway through I started to think there wasn't enough of a story to tell.


    Would you ever listen to anything by John Grisham again?

    Sure. He's written some good stuff.


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

    Michael Beck is quite a good reader and I'd certainly listen to him again.


    Any additional comments?

    Well-read, pretty good characters but the repeated buildup to nothing much became tiresome. I got impatient with the lack of plot, and I'm a very patient reader. Halfway through my mind wandered and I decided to save time and read the spoiler provided by another reviewer. This one will get returned I'm afraid.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 11-26-13
    Robin 11-26-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horribly Boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I cannot imagine anyone enjoying this novel about a will contest. I am a paralegal who focuses on estate administration and even I found it repetitive and ridiculously boring. Grisham focused on the technical aspect of the law too much and did not tell us enough about the man at the center of the controversy. How did his relationship with his children become so fractured? We will never know. Too many needless characters were introduced for no reason and served no purpose. I had to force myself to listen to the majority of the book, hoping against hope that it would get interesting or something would actually happen. Then, with 30 minutes remaining, the downloaded file refused to advance. After deleting it and re-downloading several times I was finally able to finish the book. I only finished it because I had invested too much time not to.


    Would you ever listen to anything by John Grisham again?

    Probably not. His early novels were good but I think his books sell now only because of his name, not because they are worth reading.


    What character would you cut from Sycamore Row?

    Memphis lawyer, Booker Sistrunk to start with.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 11-22-13
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 11-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grisham by any other name would still be Grisham."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would remove half of the repetitive material, or ask for my money back.


    Would you be willing to try another book from John Grisham? Why or why not?

    I used to be a Grisham fan, apparently some find that they can still stand the same story over and over I cannot.


    Did Michael Beck do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes Beck did a great job. Well, his performance allowed me to make it halfway through the book before smacking myself in disgust for giving Grisham another chance.


    Could you see Sycamore Row being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No I don't see a movie out of it, but if so the lead should be given to Vince Vaughn just for fun.


    Any additional comments?

    Grisham is like Patterson is to any book, they never die, but live to tell the same tales with different title. People magazine gave this book 4 stars I am ashamed I even know that.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garnie 10-28-13
    Garnie 10-28-13

    Granny

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Storytelling at the highest level"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Sycamore Row to be better than the print version?

    Yes. The reader enhanced the novel by his authentic, soft, lovely Southern accents--plural because the different characters had different voices. That is hard for me to do in my head.


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

    I did not want to quit listening to this book. The story line was compelling. The characters seemed realistic and interesting. I would love to have another just as interesting right now but they are hard to find.


    14 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Charlottesville, VA, United States 12-14-13
    Lawrence Charlottesville, VA, United States 12-14-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing - repetitive and obvious"
    Any additional comments?

    Not sure why this is getting rave reviews. The basic premise (that an African-American housekeeper might inherit a gazillion bucks in a deep southern town, and that this might cause a stir...) is repeated over and over. The characters are one dimensional, and the resolution to the big question (why did the dead man give her all this money in his will) is obvious 2/3s of the way through. This is the second recent Grisham book I've been disappointed by... and I'm done.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
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