Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Ebook)

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

As usual, I finished this book a day ahead of my Third Tuesday Book Club meeting tomorrow night (July 18th, 2017); it is a stand-alone sequel to A Time To Kill, and is a great book, which I very much enjoyed reading.

It is 1988, in Ford County, Mississippi (three years after the events of A Time to Kill), and on a Sunday in October Seth Hubbard has just killed himself. He had cancer, which had metastasized, and was given an extremely limited time left to live. He had called one of his employees to meet him at 2:00 pm out by the bridge (which is when the employee found his body hanging from a tree); he left a note on his kitchen table, noting that he had chosen to take his own life, and another note outlining his funeral requests. On Monday morning, in the mail, Jake Brigance gets a letter from Hubbard (which was evidently mailed out on Saturday), a man whom Brigance never met, directing him to be the lawyer to probate the holographic will (enclosed with the letter) that Hubbard wrote on Saturday. This will invalidates his previous will (written by a law firm in Tupelo in 1987, which gave the bulk of his estate to his children and was written to minimize death taxes), and cuts out his ex-wives, children and grandchildren, gives 5% percent to his church, gives 5% to his brother Ancil (who has not been heard from since Ancil left home at the age of sixteen), and gives 90% to his black housekeeper of three years, Lettie Lang.

Naturally, the existence of this new will comes as a shock to Hubbard’s daughter and son (and to the Tupelo law firm), and the Tupelo law firm promptly files suit to have the holographic will declared invalid, on the grounds that Hubbard was too doped up from medication to know what he was doing, and on the grounds that the housekeeper exerted undue influence on him. A lot of money is at stake; it turns out that Hubbard had been quietly selling off a lot of his property that he had acquired in the last ten years (after his second divorce), and that the estate (before taxes) is worth about $24 million dollars. Brigance is now faced with defending the wishes of Hubbard as the lawyer for the estate, and by extension the housekeeper, who had been told by Hubbard that she would be remembered by him in the will, but not that she was going to be in line to be the richest person, black or white, in Ford County.

This was a very good book, with plenty of twists and turns, and the author has promised another book featuring Brigance in the future. And I look forward to discussing this book tomorrow night at my Third Tuesday Book Club meeting.

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