So many weighty questions remain unresolved as this miserable old year runs out the clock.
I’ve read more of Grisham than Connelly. In fact I think I’ve read all of Grisham’s stuff, except his recent dabbling in the juvenile market. I just finished his latest, “Sycamore Row.” It’s classic Grisham with a deep-South setting, Clanton, Miss., a town caught in a racial time warp. Clanton is modern enough to have an elected black sheriff, but the rural backwater keeps producing court cases highlighting its history of racism.
A Grisham trademark is fast-paced suspense — maybe a chase scene — after a long buildup. Many of Grisham’s novels delve deeply into a particular legal quagmire, such as the death penalty, product liability, environmental pollution, or class-action suits. You feel like you’ve been through a law school seminar, except it was fun.
Several books focus mainly on the trials and tribulations of life as an attorney, whether a small-time street lawyer or a high-powered type in a big-city firm with dozens of wealthy partners. All Grisham’s books showcase compelling characters, many of them innocent bystanders rather than lawyers.
I think “Sycamore Row” highlights the long historical and cultural shadow of racism better than any of his previous books. It also brings out some subtle ethical issues confronting friendly lawyers and judges in a county-seat courthouse far from the big city.
I wouldn’t give any Grisham book a grade lower than a C+ or a B. Maybe a couple of his ventures outside the lawyer-courtroom genre, such as”Playing For Pizza” or “Skipping Christmas” would rate a C+. Nearly all of Grisham’s lawyer novels deserve an A or A+. “Sycamore Row” ranks near the top.
As an aside, “A Painted House,” an outside-the-genre Grisham novel, gets high marks from me, although some readers didn’t like the story.
Grisham is, in short, a master in his field.
The night is getting on toward dawn, so I’ll take up Mr. Connelly’s contributions in a separate post. Part 2 is right here.
— John Hayden
- John Grisham book tops list of most checked-out items at London libraries (lfpress.com)
- John Grisham and Sycamore Row (baxnglass.wordpress.com)
- John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row” Holds On To Top Spot On New York Times’ Bestseller List (booksnreview.com)
- Review – The Broker by John Grisham (bigbooktheory.wordpress.com)
- The Racketeer by John Grisham (booksbykathye.wordpress.com)