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Sparring Partners

Review

Sparring Partners

As an author whose novels have reached #1 on bestseller lists an astounding 47 times, John Grisham avoids any fixed patterns in his writing. A majority of his books are legal-themed, but some find settings in the sports universe, the world of rare books and independent bookstores. He penned a factual account of a man wrongfully convicted of murder and has even found time to write a series of books for young readers centered on Theodore Boone, a 13-year-old who dispenses legal advice to his friends.

There is no doubt that success has made Grisham an author who can write whatever he pleases, and he takes full advantage of this opportunity.

"SPARRING PARTNERS is another in a long list of John Grisham classics. It’s an easy read on your summer vacation or during a lengthy flight. Enjoy it, and admire the skill of a truly great writer while pondering where his next book will take us."

More significant perhaps is that the Mississippi native’s work often revolves around issues that he considers to be important and compelling. Early in his career, he took on capital punishment and wrote several novels decrying the evils of the death penalty in the United States. He has continued his advocacy on the subject by serving on the board of directors of the Innocence Project, an organization devoted to aiding those wrongfully convicted of crimes. Along with fellow author Scott Turow, he often appears at fundraising events for the innocent and those on death row.

You may look at SPARRING PARTNERS as a bit of a respite for Grisham from the tilting at legal windmills that often dominates his writing. Regardless of why he chose to go this particular route, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by his first collection of novellas.

“Homecoming,” the first of three stories that comprise the book, features one of the few characters who has appeared in multiple Grisham novels: Jake Brigance, a small-town practitioner with an office in Ford County, Mississippi. This time, Jake is asked to help an old friend, Mack Stafford, an attorney who found his life falling apart and elected to solve his dilemma by disappearing from town. This is a story of forgiveness, revenge and friendship.

“Strawberry Moon” is the book’s most poignant novella. Cody Wallace is a young man on death row who is only three hours away from being executed. Grisham uses the time that Cody is still alive to delve into his life, the crime that he was convicted of, and the madness that is capital punishment in America. He makes the case for the abolition of the death penalty clear and concise.

Both lawyers and non-lawyers will appreciate the layers found in the title story. Kirk and Rusty Malloy took over a thriving law firm run by their father, who is serving a prison term for murdering their mother. The antagonism between the brothers is destroying the firm, and as it crumbles before them, we wonder how they will survive. The dissolution of a legal partnership is often more brutal than a contentious divorce. Can the firm save itself?

SPARRING PARTNERS is another in a long list of John Grisham classics. It’s an easy read on your summer vacation or during a lengthy flight. Enjoy it, and admire the skill of a truly great writer while pondering where his next book will take us.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on June 3, 2022

Sparring Partners
by John Grisham

  • Publication Date: May 31, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385549326
  • ISBN-13: 9780385549325