Book Review: A Time for Mercy


A Time for Mercy, John Grisham’s  latest novel and the third book in the Jake Brigance Series was finally released on Oct. 13 2020. You may have heard of the first novel of this series –A Time to Kill—which  was adapted into a film, starring Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Samuel L. Jackson, in 1996. Grisham was a practicing lawyer for over a decade, but he’s most famous for writing legal thriller novels. Having spent a lot of time in courtrooms  and in front of juries, Grisham is able to use his writing skills to make the reader his “second chair” in his fictional courtrooms. 

The book revolves around Jake Brigance, a small-town “street lawyer” ,trying to save yet another person in Clanton, Mississippi ,from death row. This time, a 16-year-old child, Drew Gamble, stands accused of murdering his mother’s abusive boyfriend, Stuart. Drew’s mother and younger sister were often victims of domestic abuse from Stuart. Drew shot him under the impression that Stuart beat his mother to death. As a minor, Drew would not have faced the death penalty but for one important fact: Stuart Koffer was a lieutenant in the police. Having all odds stacked against him as always, Jake must find a way to win this case ,while managing his perpetual financial problems.    

Quite often, thriller novelists write very suspenseful stories which are plagued with plot holes, making which makes the story hard to believe (and sometimes laughable).The best part of  this book,though, is how real  all the characters are ,and how brilliantlyGrisham  keeps the plot realistic  ,and   the readers at the edge of their seats.       Jake’s ultimate  “triumph”,against all odds-with no miracles in his favor- illustrates how a person’s talents and persistence can always overpower one’smisfortunes.  

In my opinion, this book is not  at par with the other novels in the Jake Brigance Series. A Time for Mercy is very well written, however, the previous two books in the series were much more suspenseful. Although a white  male, Jake faced an added obstacle of racial discrimination in the previous books ,since his clients were African Americans. The social injustice element resulted in violence against Jake which intrigued readers to see Jake’s clients prosper in the previous stories. Perhaps in response to recent events of police brutality in the US, Grisham wanted to explore a new theme of having one bad apple in the police force and other officers choosing to defend their comrade.    

Overall, A Time for Mercy is an excellent read for anyone looking for a thriller movie in book form. I would especially recommend this book (in fact, all of John Grisham’s books) for those trying to learn more about the legal system in the US or Canada. I would suggest that before reading this book, one should definitely read its prequels A Time to Kill (1989) and Sycamore Row (2013). I rate this book a 7/10.   


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