Sycamore Row (Jake Brigance) by John Grisham

Sycamore Row

Reviewed by Allen Hott

There is no doubt that John Grisham is one of the top novelists of today but believe me Sycamore Row is just one more piece of proof of his greatness. Grisham is most adept at writing courtroom stories but he is so special in that he travels away from that area at times and when he does he excels in whatever area he enters.

Sycamore Row is indeed a courtroom drama with pages of happenings in the courtroom but it is also a really fantastic story of a group of characters in their daily lives and even in the lives of those who preceded that group. The story is about a southern attorney and the happenings as he works to defend a handwritten, not witnessed, will that has been mailed to him.

Jake Brigance, the attorney, had won a major courtroom battle three years previous. That victory was without a doubt his biggest and he earned quite a reputation for the win.

Seth Hubbard, the writer of the will, mailed the will and then went into a row of Sycamore trees and hung himself!

Hubbard, a white man thought to have some financial strength, lived alone and his home was basically looked after by a black housekeeper, Lettie Lang. He had been one of a pioneering family in the area and was accepted although not particularly well liked. As far as anyone knew he owned some businesses throughout the southeast and some property in the area where he lived.

He left a son and daughter and several grandchildren, none of whom had spent much time with him in recent years but they showed up once they heard of his death and impending funeral. They were not happy to see the housekeeper and basically told her that her job was over and she would be no longer needed.

Lettie’s husband was a ne’er do well who was always in some kind of trouble caused by his drinking and cavorting. He supposedly drove a truck and was seldom home. He does however play a very important part as the story unfolds.

The letter that Hubbard sent with the will told Brigance to wait until after the funeral before disclosing of the contents of the will. So following the funeral Brigance begins to do his duty.

And from there on Grisham brings together so many different characters and situations that one would think the reader would be lost. But not with the skill that Grisham uses in his writing!

He uses situations outside the courtroom including having Brigance’s associates go to far off places to gather witnesses and information. And he brings into the courtroom different personalities from a loud mouth braggart of an attorney (who doesn’t last long) to a strict no fooling around judge who presides in a realistic manner but firm!

And the way that Grisham brings about the ending is fantastic. Not only will most all readers be shocked, surprised or whatever but the ending is the way that it should be and there can be no complaints. Ever!

Great book by one of the best!

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