Courtroom Drama Book Review: A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

A Time for Mercy is book number three about the Clanton, MS attorney who John Grisham introduced us to in A Time to Kill in 1989.

A picture of Matthew McConaughey reading the subject of my courtroom drama book review of A Time for Mercy.

This is my courtroom drama book review of an immensely popular book that became a box office smash in 1996 starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, and Ashley Judd.

A Time to Kill starts right off with the rape and attempted murder of a ten-year-old black girl and quickly escalates to the vengeful, vigilante-style killing of the two white men charged with the crimes by the girl’s father, Carl Lee.

In 2013, Grisham took us back to Clanton in Ford County, MS, with Sycamore Row. The first thing he did in that book was suicide Jake’s client.

You can read my courtroom drama book review of Sycamore Row here.

What a way to reintroduce us to Jake and Carla Brigance, Lucien, Harry Rex, Judge Atlee and Noose, Carl Lee, Sheriff Ozzie Walls, and so many more that we hadn’t realized we missed.

In several other books through the years, he let us walk the streets of Clanton. He says, “I’ve written so much about Ford County that I can’t remember all of it.” I believe that. I know I’ve read most of these, and I continue to want more.

I read The Last Juror, The Chamber, The Summons, The Reckoning (although The Reckoning is more of a fictional history), and a collection of seven short stories about Ford County.    

In his epilogue, Mr. Grisham tells us, “As a young attorney so many years ago I was bound to follow them to the letter of the law. Now, as a writer of fiction, I feel no such bondage. Here, as before, I have changed laws, twisted them, even fabricated them, all in an effort to drive the narrative.”

I think we can all agree; he does drive the narrative.

An Introduction

Once again, the author wastes no time getting to the meat of the story. Drew Gamble, a meek 16-year-old boy, believes the drunken deputy who repeatedly beats on him, his sister, and his mother has finally killed his mother after breaking her jaw and leaving her lying in her own blood.

The deputy passes out on his bed, leaving his service revolver on the stand beside the bed. Thinking the deputy might wake up and kill him and his sister, he uses the lawman’s own gun to shoot him in the head, calls 9-1-1, and sits with his sister waiting for the police.

Kiera, his sister, cradles their mother’s head in her lap, all the time thinking she is dead or dying.

The Protagonist in This Courtroom Drama Book Review

The protagonist is Jake Brigance, the attorney who freed Carl Lee. The townsfolk in Clanton want a speedy trial, and most want the death penalty for Drew Gamble. However, Jake, the duly appointed public defender, who wants nothing to do with the trial, is “forced” to take it.

Well, technically not forced, he could turn it down, but a well-respected Judge up for re-election appoints him, saying, “The situation can get dicey and needs a steady hand. I trust you, Jake, and that’s why I’m asking you to step in.” He digs in and quickly discovers there is more to the case than meets the public eye. 

The Plot

Once again, the hero of A Time to Kill, Jake Brigance, is the court-appointed public defender of Drew Gamble. Jake must do what he does best, defend an indefensible client, and keep him from meeting the death penalty.

Jake puts his financial freedom, legal career, and family’s safety on the line to defend a kid being tried for first-degree murder as an adult. Jake is the one person between this kid and a lethal injection.

Many of the townspeople still think Jake Brigance pulled some underhanded tricks to get Carl Lee cleared of killing the two white men in A Time to Kill. This story is only five years after that trial in book years, even though it has been 31 actual years.

Like it or not, this is still Clanton, Mississippi, in the deep south. Black men are not supposed to get away with killing white men, regardless of their crime.

The Characters in This Courtroom Drama Book Review

Of course, Jake and Carla Brigance, the Gamble family, Drew, his mother, and sister, Kiera, are the central figures.

Other people you need to know about are Jake’s intern, Portia, Harry Rex, Lucien, Judge Noose and Atlee, the DA, and his team of prosecutors.

The deputy’s vengeful family is not happy with Jake trying to defend the kid and question every move he makes. When Jake orders a mental evaluation because the kid isn’t eating, the family thinks he will try to get him off on an insanity defense. 

There are also Sheriff Ozzie Walls, his deputies who aren’t exactly happy with Jake defending their fellow law enforcement officer.

John Grisham has the extraordinary ability to develop believable characters. You will feel as if you know each one personally.

The Summary & Recommendation

If you’re waiting for a fast-paced courtroom drama and murder trial, this is not it. This is a time for mercy! Grisham takes us through all the background information, research, and technicalities that we would find boring if told to us by anybody but him.

“Bursting with all the courthouse scheming, small-town intrigue, and stunning plot twists that have become the hallmarks of the master of the legal thriller, A Time for Mercy is John Grisham’s most powerful courtroom drama yet.” —Amazon

You might be disappointed that there is no last-minute crucial witness that comes running in to save the kid from the death penalty. But you enjoy a well-written courtroom drama that only Grisham could make interesting and suspenseful.

A Time for Mercy is a must-read for all Grisham and Brigance fans.

Twenty-one thousand, eight hundred and four verified buyers who reviewed A Time for Mercy, 91 percent gave it four or five stars, and an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. The NY Times calls it “riveting” and “suspenseful.”

When you need something written for your website or would like a subjective book review of your book, click here.

Book Review Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing was an excellent read. The following is my no-spoiler, well
very few, review of the best damn book I’ve read since The Notebook.

An Introduction

I had never read anything by the author before, but I was hooked right away. Several people had recommended the book to me, and when I looked for it on Amazon for my Kindle, I was astounded to see that it had nearly 70,000 reviews.
As of 2 September, that number is 73,063.

What’s more, 95 percent of those who left a review gave it four or five stars. That is
freaking amazing. Very few books have those kinds of numbers.

Kya is the “Marsh Girl” who raises herself and learns to be self-reliant until a fisher boy,
Tate, teaches her to read and a lot more. Eventually, she is charged with murder.
If nothing else, this is a story of survival—a story about a girl who provided for herself
from seven onward.

The Protagonist

The protagonist is the “Marsh Girl,” Catherine Danielle Clark, or Kya to her friends.
Actually, Kya has very few human friends. She is more familiar with the gulls and heron
than most other humans.

The Plot

Where the Crawdads Sing is a story about a young girl left to grow up pretty much on
her own from age seven after her mother and four older brothers and sister leave her
with her drunk and abusive father, who also leaves eventually.

He never stayed long anyway, but he did leave her a little money some Mondays when
he was there to get some supplies. He liked to gamble and drink, so there never was
much money anyway.

The Characters

The list of characters in Delia Owen’s masterpiece is short. Tate is the boy she sees
fishing one day when she got lost in her Pa’s boat. He shows her how to get home. She
sees him around the marsh a lot but usually just watches from a hiding place.

The story goes back and forth somewhat, linking background stories, but don’t worry;
you won’t get lost.

Kya’s older sister and two brothers leave, then her mom leaves too. All of them at one
time or another got a beating from her Pa, a disabled Veteran, who most often pities
himself and tries to find solace in the bottom of a bottle. When Jodie, her next older
brother, leaves, she and her Pa, who comes and goes, are all that’s left in the shack.

Eventually, Tate learns that she does not know how to read and teaches her. They
spend a lot of time together, but Tate’s dad advised him to be careful and not get her
pregnant, or it could ruin his future. Thinks cool between the two later when he goes off to college.

Once the relationship between her and Tate cools for a while, she meets the football
player, rich kid, Chase Andrews. He toys with her affections, betrays her, tries to rape
her, and winds up dead.

Of course, the sheriff jumps to the conclusion that the “Marsh Girl” did it and arrested
her for the murder, even though she has an alibi. She was in Greenville, hours away,
meeting her agent and publisher. Her only mode of transportation by bus leaves a
very narrow window of opportunity.

Besides Kya, Tate, and Chase, there’s Jumpin’, who runs the boat gas station (mariner
and convenience store for the fishermen) and his wife, Mabel.

Jumpin’ is the closest thing to a father she ever had, except for a few short months
when her real Pa tried to act civil and took her fishing and out to lunch once or twice.
Then he fell off the wagon again. Kya says, “Jumpin’ has been my best friend, for years, my only friend. My only friend unless you count heron gulls.”

Mabel helped her when she became a woman and no idea what was happening.
Mabel, a “colored woman,” gets her friends to help gather some things for Kya. They
say it is in exchange for the smoked fish, but the fish really aren’t that good. Not good
enough to sell anyway.

The murder trial has many twists and turns, and it nearly kills Kya to be out of the
marsh, away from the birds and wildlife.

The Summary & Recommendation

You will love this book. The “Marsh Girl” grew up to be an intelligent and successful
author. It’s kind of like a John Grisham courtroom drama, a ‎Nicholas Sparks love story,
and a Tara Westover success story rolled into one.

As I read this book, I laughed and I cried, mostly the latter. I shook my head, and I
cursed, but I couldn’t put it down. Even with writing deadlines looming, I plowed on,
looking for resolution, hoping the best for this girl who had faced so much.

“I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”
Reese Witherspoon

In case you’re wondering, the movie will be produced by none other than Reese
Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter, and Olivia Newman will direct it, but no
casting details have been announced.

As of July 2020, the book has sold over seven million copies worldwide.

Buy the book for your Kindle:

Read my book recommendation of The First Lady:

Too Busy to Journal?

Too busy to journal, a journal with a quill pen and ink
Do you love journaling, but are at times, too busy to journal?

I used to think I was too busy to journal until I discovered this One Line a Day: A Five Year Memory Book. It was actually due to another Medium writer’s article, 8 Things I Learned from Journaling Every Day for 5 Years.

Not Too Busy to Journal

I am primarily a journalist and blogger, though I have several sources of income. I need a space I can quickly jot down story or article ideas, and this is perfect. My daughter gifts me a daily planner or journal nearly every year for Christmas.

One year she gave me a Hobbit Moleskine that I still refer back to from time-to-time. I absolutely treasure this little pocket-size gift.

Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution to journal every day. I rarely make it past February journaling, but I usually fill up the planner with story ideas, titles, and subtitles.

Sometimes, I even get a full outline, but not very often. I always convince myself that I am just too busy.

I like the idea of this journal because of its simplicity. I can write one line every night. No matter how busy I am. I make a quick note, and sometimes that note turns into a full-blown article later.

Journaling is something I have always enjoyed. The idea of writing down little tidbits about my day is uplifting. Sometimes, I only make a smiley face or a frown. But with this journal, I can write a one-line highlight about my day. 

Writing down the things I am thinking about, which I think might make a good story could be the start of something good. You’d be surprised how much your brain will automatically add to your story if you write down just one line.

Keeping the journal by my bed helps so that if I wake up from a dream, I can quickly write a highlight and go back to sleep. 

Writing on Medium from My Journal

I wrote about a dream I had about meteor showers, and it became a full-length short story that helped me get Top Writer on Medium.

Another idea was Living on the Moon, I am still growing that story. One night I was constipated and wrote, “Can laughter help you poop?” 

Too busy to journal? Quick Micro-Fiction to read while you poop

One time while I was dealing with a bout of Impostor syndrome, I wrote, “Am I an amateur?” Amateur actually comes from the Latin for love, amatorem. In 1784, the French restored it to mean, “one who has a taste for some art, study, or pursuit.” But that individual has not applied it as a profession. 

Therefore, I am, but I’m not because I have done quite well financially with my writing, at times. Although I have never sold a book, I have had short stories and a poem published. Not to mention somewhere around 150 websites that I have written the content for and several hundred blogs and thousands of product descriptions. 

I wrote a story about that, too. My “friend” asked me, “Why don’t you get a real job?”

Face of a man with his right eye turned in as if to say, Seriously?
You’re not a real writer Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash.jpg

So, if you also are too busy to journal, grab one of these One Line a Day Memory Books.

How to Contact Me

If you need content for your website, whether it is already created or not, I can give you a great price and excellent copy. Check out my testimonials and feedback page, for it’s like I’ve often said, “It’s not what someone says they will do for you, but what their clients say they have done for them.”

Just click here to send me a private message, and I will get back to you with an affordable quote. By the way, if you have a book you want to be reviewed, you can gift me a copy on Amazon. If I like it, I will write you a blazing, honest review.

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Recommended Book: Doctor Sleep

My August 2019 Recommended Book, Doctor Sleep

My August Recommended book, Doctor Sleep.

This Halloween, 30 October 2019, the movie Doctor Sleep will be released.  If you have not read the book, I would suggest you do so before then. Everyone knows to read the book before you see the movie. Otherwise, you won’t be able to complain that the book was much better.

If you read the Shining or you are a Stephen King fan, this is a must-read. Actually, even if you didn’t read The Shining, you will enjoy this book, but I would take the time to read them in order. The links for each are below.

Recommended Book Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining Book 2) Kindle Edition

“Years ago, the haunting of the Overlook Hotel nearly broke young Dan Torrance’s sanity, as his paranormal gift known as “the shining” opened a door straight into hell. And even though Dan is all grown up, the ghosts of the Overlook—and his father’s legacy of alcoholism and violence—kept him drifting aimlessly for most of his life. Now, Dan has finally found some order in the chaos by working in a local hospice. There, he earns the nickname “Doctor Sleep” by secretly using his special abilities to comfort the dying and prepare them for the afterlife.

But when he unexpectedly meets twelve-year-old Abra Stone —who possesses an even more powerful manifestation of the shining — the two find their lives in sudden jeopardy at the hands of the ageless and murderous nomadic tribe known as the True Knot. This danger reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to battle for this young girl’s soul and survival…”

Buy Doctor Sleep for your Kindle, just $8.99 or get the hardcover for $22.50.

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Recommended Reading, Educated: A Memoir

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover was one of the books that kept appearing on recommended reading lists during 2018, including The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2018. Some say it was the Best Non-Fiction of 2018. In fact, it won the Goodreads reader’s choice.

Recommended Reading Based on Awards

In the Goodreads Choice Awards, it received 5,027,741 votes in the Best Memoir & Autobiography section. It was a finalist or winner in many other book awards, including Oprah’s Best Book of March 2018.

Verified purchasers on Amazon reviews gave Educated  4.7 out of 5 stars; ninety-two percent rated it either four or five stars. Including Drew Mecham, Tara’s Ex, who gave it five stars.

Susan Amara, a Top 500 Reviewer, says, “A powerful memoir of family drama and those who twist the reality of the past. The memoir becomes a story of her internal struggle—to believe her own version of her life and to have the strength to break away from her past.”

Recommended Reading, The Backstory

Tara Westover learned from a young age how to make hard choices. Born in the 1980s into a strict religious family, she was not allowed to attend public school or go to the doctor when she was sick. While her parents said that she received homeschooling, she spent much of her time helping the family in their scrap metal business.

Westover relied on her personal journals to recount many graphic events from her childhood and mentions that she tried to collaborate with her siblings as much as possible.

Although money was tight, and it was against her parents’ wishes, she managed to purchase study materials and spend the time studying to pass the college entrance exams.

The author shows the reader a different side of American life than most mainstream people know. MS Westover demonstrates how important her family is to her. But, also how difficult it was to make the choices to leave home and go to school.

While she used her education to leave her home and create a new life for herself, other siblings did not. There is a strong theme that a person must make an effort to educate themselves to build a life.

Recommended reading because it discusses complex themes and exposes readers to a different lifestyle. Although off-the-grid family life also gets explored in The Glass Castle, this author found strength in education. Likewise, she had to make the difficult choice to leave her family behind.

Read my book reviews, spoiler warning.

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