Back when I was heading off to college, I think most family members fully expected me to be a lawyer some day. Being that I'm reasonably intelligent and enjoy arguing a point of view contrary to my own beliefs simply for the fun of it, I actually considered pursuing a degree in law at one point too. But I ultimately decided it wasn't the path for me and stunned them all by choosing to become a fine arts major -- and I'm perfectly happy with my choice to this day.
I still enjoy a good legal thriller though, with John Grisham's books topping the list, of course. I've been looking forward to the release of his new book, Sycamore Row, having read and enjoyed A Time To Kill previously.
Sycamore Row takes place about three years after the Carl Hailey trial that A Time To Kill focused on. Jake Brigance's big success hasn't translated into an increase to his financial status as he'd hoped, and his family is struggling on in a small rental while he battles his insurance company over their house that was burned to the ground by the Klan.
After a wealthy local suffering from cancer, Seth Hubbard, hangs himself, Jake is surprised to receive Seth's handwritten will by mail, naming Jake as the lawyer he wants to represent the will should it be challenged. The will renounces a former will, cutting the deceased's family out entirely, and leaves 90% of the sizable estate to his black housekeeper. Of course the family is unwilling to accept the handwritten will and a legal battle ensues.
The book got off to a slow start, but the excitement and tension build as you get further into it. It never quite fully drew me in as A Time To Kill did, though. It was a solid and entertaining read nonetheless, and the surprising twist at the end really drew it all back together. I fully enjoyed returning to Clanton, Mississippi and catching up with my favorite characters again.
I'm always one to notice food references when I'm reading books, and I had a good laugh over the lonely sheet cake that no one wanted, dropped off by some well-intentioned person for Seth Hubbard's family before the funeral. It's described as a "flat, one-layer sheet cake coated with store-bought vanilla icing and laden with slices of toasted pineapple..." Not too appealing, huh?
If you're looking for a truly great sheet cake recipe for any occasion, try this Fresh Honeycrisp Apple Cake, and if you really want to knock their socks off, top it off with this to die for Caramel Buttercream Frosting!
If you're interested in picking up Sycamore Row, it's available online now and at your local Walmart store. Walmart is offering it at 30% off the publisher's list price -- pick it up in stores or online for just $20.26!