I do not think that I have ever read a book as slowly as I did Sycamore Row. I wanted to sink into the time and place that John Grisham was unfolding for me. I wanted to understand the racial nuances that are as important as any individual character in this book. I needed to step away from my current beliefs of political correctness and return to a more turbulent time of 1988 Clayton, Mississippi.
Many of the old characters from A Time to Kill are here, but the setting is different. Jake Brigance is still trying to rebuild his life after the Klan burned down his home and the insurance company has been stalling for three years as to the payoff. What Jake needs is an infusion of cash, what he did not expect was how the suicide and holographic will of a much disliked man was going to change everything.
Money brings out true character and when Henry Seth Hubbard, a white man, leaves the majority of his estate to his housekeeper Lettie Lang, a black woman, all hell breaks loose as anyone and everyone has an opinion as to why.
As a reader, a personal relationship between the two seemed too obvious and Mr. Grisham is a much better writer than that, so I began to jump to my own conclusions. Of course, I was wrong and the truth behind the largess is stunning. I reread that part twice and I swear I did not breathe either time.
Say what you will about John Grisham, but this man can write a courtroom drama. What unfolds in both the legal arena and the lives of those involved is both stupefying and mesmerizing. The people, the personalities, the humor, it all rings true. Bad choices are made that can derail the whole thing, but when you are fighting for the wishes of one man, a man with a secret that must be told, there is no stopping Jake in his fight for his client.