John Grisham is nothing if not prolific. And with 47 NY times bestselling novels he’s got an audience that spans the globe. He mostly sticks to the advice to ‘write what you know’, and that is certainly true of these three short stories which are excellent, especially the title story which is classic Grisham. This collection came out in April of this year and at 417 pages, one wonders if the man has time to do anything but write good legal fiction. The stories are about lawyers, court cases, crime, and sometimes punishment, but also about attempts at repentance and redemption. The first story, Homecoming, is a Jack Brigance story which lands us back in little ole Clanton Miss (see the Boys of Biloxi, the most recent full novel). Grisham is of course from Mississippi and knows the law scene there well, as a one time lawyer in that state. The second story is about a very interesting death row inmate, who becomes an avid reader, and the last story is set in St. Louis and involves the corruption in a big time law firm, Malloy and Malloy, whose founder has already landed himself in prison. Whereas the first two stories have some likable suspects, the third one not so much.
These short stories are perfect summer beach reading, and are all page turners especially Sparring Partners. The Malloy brothers are rather like Cain and Abel, or better said Cain and Cain. Not likeable in the least, but at least interesting. One of the things John Grisham rarely does is interrupt the narrative with some with some omniscient author commentary, but with Sparring Partner he says towards the end of the novel– this decision would change the whole future of the person making it. This is unusual.
Grisham novels are always well researched, very readable, and sometimes complex enough that you can’t tell where the story is going until late in the game at best. He knows how to build the suspense toward the reveal, but in this case these three stories, perhaps because of their length are easier to prognosticate about. Well done John. Keep ’em coming.