cover image A Time for Mercy

A Time for Mercy

John Grisham. Doubleday, $29.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-385-54596-9

At the start of bestseller Grisham’s disappointing third outing for attorney Jake Brigance (after 2013’s Sycamore Row), deputy sheriff Stu Kofer comes home one night in 1990 to the isolated house outside Clanton, Miss., he shares with his lover, Josie. In a drunken rage, Kofer falsely accuses Josie of infidelity, and knocks her unconscious. Kofer falls asleep after a half-hearted attempt to break into the room of Josie’s 14-year-old daughter, Kiera, whom he has sexually abused. Josie’s 16-year-old son, Drew, believes his unresponsive mother is dead, and fears Kofer will attack Kiera. After dialing 911 to report Josie’s murder, Drew takes the sleeping lawman’s service weapon and shoots him in the head. A judge taps Brigance to defend Drew after the teenager is charged with intentional homicide. As Brigance prepares his case, he learns a secret that he hopes will bolster his chances in court. The high-profile murder trial that follows, however, doesn’t live up to the promise of the book’s harrowing opening: the prosecuting attorney proves a weak opponent for Brigance, and the tepid courtroom proceedings fail to engage. This one’s for Grisham diehards only. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Co. (Oct.)