Wednesday, April 23, 2014

John Grisham - Sycamore Row

Sycamore Row (Jake Brigance, #2)Sycamore Row by John Grisham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We are back in Clanton, Mississippi. It is a lovely little town. And it has some characters that we like. Harry Rex, Willie Traynor, Lucien Wilbanks, Judge Attlee are all here.

Jake Brigance gets a handwritten will and a covering letter by mail one Monday. It is by Seth Hubbard who committed suicide by hanging himself from a sycamore tree on his property. Seth Hubbard was a divorced man, alone, and battling cancer. He found it hard to face his illness and took his life.

Jake can see immediately that the will is going to cause a major stir in Clanton, and will be contested hotly. Seth left all his fortune to his black housekeeper Lettie Lang and cut his two children out completely.

There is an uproar on many fronts. Lettie Lang's husband, who is a drunkard, causes trouble by hiring some hotshot lawyers who are up to no good. Hubbard's children also hire lawyers to contest the handwritten will as well. Jake Brigance is supported covertly by Harry Rex and Lucien Wilbanks. With their invaluable help, he sets about trying to win the case for the Estate of Seth Hubbard.

The crux of the story lies in reason Seth had for leaving the fortune to Lettie Lang. Although that is not seen as central to the case. What is central to the case is whether Seth was in right mind when he made the will. But as the case progresses and the sleuths on the side of Seth's children uncover some facts, the reason for the strange bequeath becomes a moot point.

When we do find out the reason Seth had for giving the money to Lettie, we feel things could have been simplified by just stating the reason in the will. It was a horrific story, but it was in the past and not something that needed to be hidden. It is at the fag end of the book, that we feel the story gets weak.

For the major part of the novel, the story is very interesting and a real page-turner. At the end, with a lot of heavy duty legal descriptions, the lay reader is bound to feel bored.

I liked the Last Juror much much more.

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