What Billy Mays did for OxiClean, John Grisham has been doing for the legal thriller since his first book, “A Time To Kill,” came out in 1988. It was therefore — to put it mildly — kind of a big deal when Grisham’s publisher Knopf Doubleday announced that the former jurist would be publishing a sequel later this year.
Grisham, then a lawyer and member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, had witnessed the testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim a quarter-century ago; the shock spurred him to spend the next three years rising at 5 a.m. and working on the novel before work.
Although the book was initially rejected by numerous publishers (and first paled in comparison to his second release, “The Firm”), Grisham’s story of Jake Brigance — a white lawyer defending a black man charged with murdering his daughter’s rapists — was later adapted into the widely successful Joel Schumacher film starring Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock (fun fact: Grisham’s first-ever reading for “A Time To Kill” was in Oxford, Miss’ Square Books, which recently won the Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year award).
In Grisham’s latest, titled “Sycamore Row” and set for release on October 22, the author returns Brigance to his “Time to Kill” stomping ground. The sequel, according to Grisham, “will have [Brigance fighting] for justice in a trial that could tear the small town of Clanton apart.”