Jake Brigance, the protagonist of A Time to Kill, John Grisham’s classic legal thriller is back. This time he’s at the epicenter of a sensational murder trial that bitterly divides the citizens of Clanton, Mississippi.
A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. It established Jake as a classic American hero—a lawyer who seeks truth and justice at all costs, even when his life and reputation are on the line.
Brigance returned in 2013’s Sycamore Row, in which he once again found himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial.
Now, in A Time for Mercy, Jake is the court-appointed lawyer for Drew Gamble, a young man accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance sees it another way. Once he learns the details of the case, he realizes he has to do everything he can to save Drew—who is sixteen. Jake’s commitment to the truth puts his career and the safety of his family at risk.
Filled with all the courtroom machinations, small-town intrigues, and plot twists that have become the hallmarks of the master of the legal thriller, A Time for Mercy emphatically confirms John Grisham’s reputation as America’s favorite storyteller.
Alright. Let’s address the oversized elephant in the room. Sequels, whether they are movies or books, have a bad rap. I think we can all agree that nothing ever compares to the first installment to any duology or series. Well, folks, this series is not part of that sad, sad party.
To be honest, I have a hard time calling this a series since all the books have significant gaps between them (the first was published in 1989, the second in 2013, and the third in 2020 –— I was born in 1991…geez, this series is a little older than me). Nevertheless, it’s a series if Johnny-Boy says so, and none of them disappoint.
Anyway, this book is one of the reasons I love fiction. There is just so much to cover that you can read a little bit of everything. With that in mind, if you love courtroom dramas/legal thrillers, pick up this book. Please note that there are sensitive topics repeatedly mentioned and discussed throughout the book.
Another heads up –— this is going to be a short review because I really have nothing bad to say. Maybe it’s nostalgia or maybe it’s the huge gaps in between books. Whatever it is, I found no fault with this story. I got to spend time with some of my favourite characters and was hooked on every word. Really, bookworms, I read this in a day.
Five years after the Carl Lee Hailey case (A Time to Kill), we once again see Jake Brigance (who I only see as Matthew McConaughey, which isn’t a bad thing) being the unpopular guy in Clayton, Mississippi. However, instead of it being a racially charged scenario, we have Jake defending (at the urging of Judge Noose) a cop killer.
What I really appreciate about these books, and this one in particular, is that Grisham isn’t afraid of letting things get ugly. I don’t say this because I enjoy reading about domestic violence, abuse, rape, and alcoholism, but it is what would be dealt with in a capital murder trial. Even better, Jake isn’t some big time lawyer raking in that $$$. He lives in a small town and struggles to make a life for his family, just like us regular folk. Sure, he wants to be a big time trial lawyer, but it doesn’t keep him from doing his absolute best to represent the underdog (even when it puts those he loves in danger).
Besides Jake, of course, we have to give a shout out to Harry Rex, Carla, and Lucien. These guys really add another layer that makes the story juicer. Without them, I feel like Jake wouldn’t be as loveable. This is a team effort, for sure!
The best part about these books is that you don’t need a law degree to keep up. There is nothing I hate more than reading a book that gets too caught up in jargon. Everything is understandable, which allows you to be just as committed in the case. It’s like you are sitting in the courtroom with Jake and the gang!
I’ll stop it here because I think this book is worth reading and I don’t want to give anything else away. Typically, I give my spoiler warning at the beginning and let you, the reader, continue at your own risk, but I really don’t want to diminish a moment of this read for you!
As I wrap this up, I already have plans to read three other books set in the same town. If anything, I am angry with myself for not doing my due diligence earlier and being completely ignorant to these other three books. No, they don’t feature Jake as the shining star, but they do take place in the same universe. I don’t expect them to be as good, but I’ll read anything to get my fix at this point. I sincerely hope Grisham writes another one!
Other books set in the same setting:
If not, at least give me another movie. SOMEONE CALL MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY and SANDRA BULLOCK and EVERYONE ELSE! NOW!
P.S. Don’t be surprised if these books make you want to jump ship and swim towards law school. It happens to me way too often.
Have you read A Time for Mercy? Are you planning to? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!