Top positive review
This is Grisham from the good ol’ days!
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2020
What a relief to read “A Time for Mercy” and find Jake doing what he does best - defending the indefensible. This time, his client is a 16 year old boy charged with murdering his mother’s abusive boyfriend who just happens to be an officer of the law, in a small southern town.
Welcome back to Clanton, where most of us met Jake, (Carla, Judge Noose, Sheriff Ozzie), in “A Time to Kill” and became fans of his and Grisham. This story is not heavily entrenched with racial issues. In its place are issues of: social class, blue lives, alcoholism, rape, spousal abuse, small town corruption and much more.
There’s no need for me to rehash the plot any more specifically; the synopsis is quite clear and others are sure to do so. What I will mention is Grisham’s extraordinary ability to develop characters. The children in this story have had an horrific, oppressive and abusive existence. They love their mother but her ability to parent is abysmal. The depth of their need and lack is compassionately revealed by Grisham’s careful prose and spot on dialogue.
Grisham’s brilliance is equally evident in the antagonists and there are a few. None of them are great literary figures that readers will refer to for ages to come. These are the baddies that resonate in your soul; that you recognize from your town, neighborhood; God forbid, your family. There’s no superhero performing miraculous feats to conquer these monsters, just nice guys doing the right thing, putting their all on the line at great personal cost; totally inspiring!
The story contains two mysteries and 2 arcs. Consequently, there are two endings, of sorts. This open aspect of the book was rather unique, at least in my experience. My recollection is that Grisham tied up his endings in previous books. Perhaps this happened in the books I took a pass on, (I’d quit reading many of his books due to formulaic fodder), but there are issues purposely left for future purposes. If those volumes are of this caliber and involve the new characters, I’m all about it!
In true Grisham style, the writing is clear of foul language and descriptive sexual or violent scenes. There are very tension filled chapters that include violence - it is after all, a book about murder, rape and abuse. This author knows how to write without resorting to single f word modifiers and over written, graphic literary explosions that take the place of finely nuanced prose.
Professionally published & edited, it is indeed a “Time for Mercy”📚