Sycamore Row by John Grisham

80%

40 Critic Reviews

Even if sharp-eyed readers already know how the book’s surprises may arise — has there ever been a long-lost relative who did not show up in a work of legal fiction? — they will still miss the final whammy that Mr. Grisham has in store.
-NY Times

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Don’t miss an original essay by John Grisham in the back of the book.

John Grisham takes you back to where it all began. One of the most popular novels of our time, A Time to Kill established John Grisham as the master of the legal thriller. Now we return to Ford County as Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial that exposes a tortured history of racial tension.
 
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 many 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?

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for Sycamore Row
 
“Powerful . . . immensely readable . . . the best of his books.”—The Washington Post
 
“Welcome back, Jake. . . . [Brigance] is one of the most fully developed and engaging characters in all of Grisham’s novels.”—USA Today
 
“One of [Grisham’s] finest . . . Sycamore Row is a true literary event.”—The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About John Grisham

See more books from this Author
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, and The Broker) and all of them have become international bestsellers. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marks his first foray into non-fiction. 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.
 
Published July 3, 2014 by DELL / PENGUIN. 642 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Crime, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jan 19 2014
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Sycamore Row
All: 40 | Positive: 35 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Good
on Nov 03 2013

...in which dogged attorney Jake Brigance fights for justice in a Mississippi town where justice is not always easy to come by...Trademark Grisham, with carefully situated echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird. A top-notch thriller.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Oct 28 2013

All the author’s strengths are in evidence—his capturing the rhythms of small-town life in Clanton, Miss., his skill at making legal minutiae comprehensible, and his gift at getting readers to care about his characters.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Charlie Rubin on Nov 08 2013

“Sycamore Row” could’ve shed a couple of its burpy suburbanisms...Ole Miss foobah-isms...and goyim naches over Christmas morning, and some readers will be chagrined not to learn what happened to several important characters from “A Time to Kill.”

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Oct 30 2013

Even if sharp-eyed readers already know how the book’s surprises may arise — has there ever been a long-lost relative who did not show up in a work of legal fiction? — they will still miss the final whammy that Mr. Grisham has in store.

Read Full Review of Sycamore Row | See more reviews from NY Times

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Amy Goodfellow Wagner on Feb 07 2014

While “Sycamore Row” is in many ways a visit with old friends and a gritty courtroom drama, it is also a powerful story about racial tensions in the Deep South that transcends the legal thriller genre.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on Oct 25 2013

Comfortable in the knowledge that he entertains readers, Grisham continues to turn out great novels. SYCAMORE ROW will not disappoint fans.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Barry Forshaw on Nov 05 2013

As with earlier books by Grisham, what we are given here is the purest of unvarnished storytelling...he knows that modern readers require a conflicted, multifaceted hero, and that he provides in Jake Brigance.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Randy Dotinga on Dec 03 2013

Ultimately, Grisham's message about race isn't especially profound. But in the South, it seems, simply speaking of the unspoken can represent progress...

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USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by Dennis Moore on Oct 21 2013

Grisham is famous for his legal thrillers. Sycamore Row's plot doesn't deviate from his trusted twists and turns, but it is not a thriller. Grisham still scatters some shocks, but he relies more on the characters' motivations to drive the story.

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Zimbio

Good
Reviewed by Christine on Oct 27 2013

In Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to the setting and the compelling characters that first established him as America’s favorite storyteller.

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Good E-Reader

Excellent
Reviewed by Mercy Pilkington on Dec 01 2013

Critics of the book have argued that this one is “typical Grisham” and that it follows the plot lines that we’ve gotten really, really used to from him...The courtroom drama and masterful depictions of well-researched settings more than make up for any predictability in the plot...

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Chron

Good
Reviewed by Patrick Anderson on Nov 08 2013

This time Grisham has found a story that permits the full use of his powers. For all the novel's humor and satire, its ending reflects the writer's absolute understanding of Mississippi's unspeakable history of racial violence.

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More Than Just Books

Good
Reviewed by Debbie on Nov 11 2013

I wasn’t sure if John Grisham could bring the essence of Clanton Mississippi back after all these years, but he does. He is true southern storyteller.

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Greenwich Patch

Good
Reviewed by Gordon Hastings on Oct 31 2013

Grisham is never laborious and writes in a captivating an energetic manner. The Sycamore Row plot and story line is wonderfully developed and as always his characters are alive and real...

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The Beaufort Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Don McKinney on Dec 29 2013

I've read a good many of Grisham's novels, and while I've enjoyed most of them, I have never read one that seemed to be so close to life. This is how he really sees the land he came from, and I'd rate it the best novel he's written.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Joanna Ammons on Dec 01 2013

Grisham is one of the best legal thriller authors alive today. He has written bestsellers, one a year for over each one better than the other, for the last 25 years. He is a master storyteller who is expert at characterizations of all the players.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Good
Reviewed by Karla Jay on Dec 01 2013

Grisham does a wonderful job of juggling the lives and schemes of the many litigants and their colorful representatives...It is no wonder that SYCAMORE ROW is the instant hit many Grisham fans have been waiting for...

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Curled Up

Below average
Reviewed by Luan Gaines on Jun 01 2014

By mid-novel, I was overwhelmed by the interactions between the lawyers, interesting at first, but predictably moribund with lawyerese...Grisham set the bar high with A Time to Kill and his earlier novels. He may have more stories to tell, but I don’t want to work so hard to enjoy them.

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Booking Mama

Above average
on Jan 27 2014

...I appreciated the complexity of the story. This wasn't an edge-of-the-seat mystery. Rather it was a slow-moving story, with quite a few minor twists and turns, that really made me think.

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Book Loons

Excellent
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson on Jun 01 2014

John Grisham is at the top of his game in Sycamore Row, which I highly recommend to you as a thoroughly satisfying and well developed legal mystery.

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Quick Book Reviews

Good
on Nov 24 2013

...Sycamore Row is one of Grisham’s finer works, especially when taking into account the rather impactful and surprising ending that won’t fail to leave an impression on you. I definitely recommend it to Grisham fans or anyone looking for a solid legal thriller.

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Men Reading Books

Good
Reviewed by West Coast Don on Oct 27 2013

Grisham artfully reviews the troubled history of Mississippi and its long history of racial turmoil. Even though I saw the details of the ending coming long before Grisham got to the dramatic conclusion, the story held me in its grips.

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A Bookworm's World

Excellent
Reviewed by Luanne on Nov 19 2013

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...

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Bibliophile By the Sea

Good
Reviewed by (Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea on Jan 05 2014

This Grisham novel was very good and I liked the way the story unfolded...The character development was good, a fair amount of twists and turns along the way to keep me engaged and curious, and best of all an ending that did not disappoint.

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Milo's Rambles

Good
Reviewed by Milo on Oct 12 2013

With sharp dialogue, atmospheric narrative and a sagacious storyline, Sycamore Row is one not to be missed. Highly recommended.

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Booktopia Blog

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Cattanach on Jul 19 2013

Filled with the intrigue, suspense and plot twists that are the hallmarks of the world’s favourite storyteller, Sycamore Row is the thrilling story of the elusive search for justice in a small American town.

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Reads 4 Pleasure

Above average
on Feb 12 2014

...fans of Grisham will love this book. I didn't think it was five star worthy, but it's a good read nonetheless.

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M Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Oct 25 2013

Grisham is a reliable storyteller and his books are always readable, but "Sycamore Row" carries an extra moral heft that raises it to another level.

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A Common Reader

Good
on Dec 21 2013

...his motivation in writing A Time to Kill was around having a story to tell which he had to put down on paper. In Sycamore Row, this same motivation burns through the pages and has led to a novel which would stand as a masterpiece for any writer.

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http://theblurb.com.au

Above average
Reviewed by Monique Mulligan on Jan 31 2014

My verdict: a great read, probably even better if you watch A Time to Kill or read the book first, just to get the back story. As for me, I’m going to read A Time to Kill again, just because.

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Mysteries and More from Saskatchean

Good
Reviewed by Bill Selnes on Dec 31 2013

As with each of his books set in the rural South, Grisham makes me believe the characters could be found in a town in northern Mississippi. Their language, backgrounds and actions are all convincing.

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Nashville Book Worm

Above average
on Dec 05 2013

Sycamore Row is one of the better novels that Grisham has written of late. It comes very close to being as good as A Time to Kill, but it unfortunately falls a bit short.

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Beattie's Book Blog

Below average
Reviewed by John O'Connell on Oct 30 2013

Sycamore Row's main problem is Jake Brigance, an authorial projection Grisham can't bring himself to make flawed. He is Noble White Liberal 1.0: handsome, uxorious, moderate in all appetites, comfortable with all social classes. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the minor characters...

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Live Your Dream

Good
Reviewed by sayedkhadri on Dec 19 2013

As usual character development and the twist and turns and plot development is just awesome. Grisham know how to tell a story which will captivate the reader till the end and leaves him wanting more.

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Crazy for Books

Good
on Nov 03 2013

The climax is brilliant and shows the writer’s understanding of Mississippi’s history of racial intolerance.

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Curious Book Shop

Good
Reviewed by Ray Walsh on Jan 24 2014

This is a well-written book, with smooth storytelling and many vivid plot twists and turns. The strong characterization makes Grisham's novel quite entertaining; the shocking conclusion is dramatic yet believable.

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Senceless Pie

Above average
on Jun 02 2014

Despite the fact Grisham goes a little overboard here and there with the drudgery of probate law (I mean, thanks for striving for realism, and all, but you could strive for a little less realism next time, sir. Because: zzzzzzz . . .), this is a really entertaining, well-written novel.

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Choose and Books

Excellent
Reviewed by choose and book on Feb 14 2014

As filled with page-turning twists as it is with legal mastery, Sycamore Row (2013) proves beyond doubt that Grisham is in a league of his own.

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Dougald Blue

Good
Reviewed by Doug Blue on Jun 02 2014

...formulaic it is not. It is, in fact, a creative tale well told. And I will not inflict you with any spoilers except to say that the warm compassion of his tale-telling is extraordinary in Sycamore Row.

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Freelance Homeschool Mom

Good
Reviewed by Lynnae on Oct 22 2013

As with most Grisham novels, I was immediately drawn into the story. I enjoyed returning to the town of Clanton, Mississippi to hear about Jake Brigance’s latest case.

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Reader Rating for Sycamore Row
87%

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Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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