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Sparring Partners
Cover of Sparring Partners
Sparring Partners
Novellas
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • John Grisham is the acknowledged master of the legal thriller. In his first collection of novellas, law is a common thread, but America’s favorite storyteller has several surprises in store.
 
“Homecoming” takes us back to Ford County, the fictional setting of many of John Grisham’s unforgettable stories. Jake Brigance is back, but he’s not in the courtroom. He’s called upon to help an old friend, Mack Stafford, a former lawyer in Clanton, who three years earlier became a local legend when he stole money from his clients, divorced his wife, filed for bankruptcy, and left his family in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again—until now. Now Mack is back, and he’s leaning on his old pals, Jake and Harry Rex, to help him return. His homecoming does not go as planned.
In “Strawberry Moon,” we meet Cody Wallace, a young death row inmate only three hours away from execution. His lawyers can’t save him, the courts slam the door, and the governor says no to a last-minute request for clemency. As the clock winds down, Cody has one final request. 
The “Sparring Partners” are the Malloy brothers, Kirk and Rusty, two successful young lawyers who inherited a once prosperous firm when its founder, their father, was sent to prison. Kirk and Rusty loathe each other, and speak to each other only when necessary. As the firm disintegrates, the resulting fiasco falls into the lap of Diantha Bradshaw, the only person the partners trust. Can she save the Malloys, or does she take a stand for the first time in her career and try to save herself?
By turns suspenseful, hilarious, powerful, and moving, these are three of the greatest stories John Grisham has ever told.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • John Grisham is the acknowledged master of the legal thriller. In his first collection of novellas, law is a common thread, but America’s favorite storyteller has several surprises in store.
 
“Homecoming” takes us back to Ford County, the fictional setting of many of John Grisham’s unforgettable stories. Jake Brigance is back, but he’s not in the courtroom. He’s called upon to help an old friend, Mack Stafford, a former lawyer in Clanton, who three years earlier became a local legend when he stole money from his clients, divorced his wife, filed for bankruptcy, and left his family in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again—until now. Now Mack is back, and he’s leaning on his old pals, Jake and Harry Rex, to help him return. His homecoming does not go as planned.
In “Strawberry Moon,” we meet Cody Wallace, a young death row inmate only three hours away from execution. His lawyers can’t save him, the courts slam the door, and the governor says no to a last-minute request for clemency. As the clock winds down, Cody has one final request. 
The “Sparring Partners” are the Malloy brothers, Kirk and Rusty, two successful young lawyers who inherited a once prosperous firm when its founder, their father, was sent to prison. Kirk and Rusty loathe each other, and speak to each other only when necessary. As the firm disintegrates, the resulting fiasco falls into the lap of Diantha Bradshaw, the only person the partners trust. Can she save the Malloys, or does she take a stand for the first time in her career and try to save herself?
By turns suspenseful, hilarious, powerful, and moving, these are three of the greatest stories John Grisham has ever told.
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  • From the cover HOMECOMING

    (1)

    It was one of those raw, windy, dreary Monday afternoons in February when gloom settled over the land and seasonal depression was rampant. Court was not in session. The phone wasn’t ringing. Petty criminals and other potential clients were busy elsewhere with no thoughts whatsoever of hiring lawyers. The occasional caller was more likely to be a man or woman still reeling from holiday overspending and seeking advice about unpaid credit card accounts. Those were quickly sent next door, or across the square, or anywhere.

    Jake was at his desk upstairs, making little progress with the stack of paperwork he’d been neglecting for weeks, even months. With no court or hearings scheduled for days, it should have been a good time to catch up with the old stuff—the fish files that every lawyer had for some reason said yes to a year ago and now just wanted to go away. The upside of a small-town law practice, especially in your hometown, was that everyone knew your name, and that was what you wanted. It was important to be well thought of and well liked, with a good reputation. When your neighbors got in trouble, you wanted to be the man they called. The downside was that their cases were always mundane and rarely profitable. But, you couldn’t say no. The gossip was fierce and unrelenting, and a lawyer who turned his back on his friends would not last long.

    His funk was interrupted when Alicia, his current part-time secretary, chimed in through his desk phone. “Jake, there’s a couple here to see you.”

    A couple. Married but wanting to get unmarried. Another cheap divorce. He glanced at his daily planner though he knew there was nothing.

    “Do they have an appointment?” he asked, but only to remind Alicia that she shouldn’t be bothering him with the foot traffic.

    “No. But they’re very nice and they say it’s really urgent. They’re not going away, said it wouldn’t take but a few minutes.”

    Jake loathed being bullied in his own office. On a busier day he would take a stand and get rid of them. “Do they appear to have any money?” The answer was always no.

    “Well, they do seem rather affluent.”

    Affluent? In Ford County. Somewhat intriguing.

    Alicia continued, “They’re from Memphis and just passing through, but, again, they say it’s very important.”

    “Any idea what it is?”

    “No.”

    Well, it wouldn’t be a divorce if they lived in Memphis. He ran through a list of possibilities—Grandma’s will, some old family land, maybe a kid busted for drugs over at Ole Miss. Since he was bored and mildly curious and needed an excuse to avoid the paperwork, he asked, “Did you tell them that I’m tied up in a settlement conference call with a dozen lawyers?”

    “No.”

    “Did you tell them I’m due in federal court over in Oxford and can only spare a moment or two?”

    “No.”

    “Did you tell them that I’m slammed with other appointments?”

    “No. It’s pretty obvious the place is empty and the phone isn’t ringing.”

    “Where are you?”

    “I’m in the kitchen, so I can talk.”

    “Okay, okay. Make some fresh coffee and put ’em in the conference room. I’ll be down in ten minutes.”

    (2)

    The first thing Jake noticed was their tans. They had obviously been somewhere in the sun. No one else in Clanton had a tan in February. The second thing he...
About the Author-
  • John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge's List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.
     
    Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.
     
    When he's not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.
     
    John lives on a farm in central Virginia.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 13, 2022
    Thinly developed characters and underwhelming plots mar the three entries in bestseller Grisham’s first novella collection. “Homecoming,” the opener, underutilizes Ford County, Miss., attorney Jake Brigance, the lead of Grisham’s debut, A Time to Kill. A couple hand deliver a letter to Jake from Mack Stafford, someone they met on vacation in Costa Rica; he’s an old colleague of Jake’s who fled the county three years earlier after filing for bankruptcy and divorcing his wife. Mack asks Jake for help learning the level of risk he would face if he returned home to reconnect with family he abandoned, including his mother and daughters. The story line ends with a whimper, presenting no genuine ethical dilemmas. Readers will struggle to feel any sense of gross injustice in “Strawberry Moon,” about the last hours of a young man facing execution for a crime he aided in as a teen. Equally unmemorable is the title tale, which focuses on machinations at a law firm. Mundane prose doesn’t help (“It was one of those raw, windy, dreary Monday afternoons in February when gloom settled over the land”). Grisham has done a lot better. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Co.

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Novellas
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