You get the feeling that Grisham, who has written several dozen books by now, has returned to the place closest to his heart ... This is a leisurely story, told by a master of plotting and pacing, and there’s no use in him or us rushing our way through it. Grisham puts us inside the heads not just of Jake and Drew, but also of an extended cast of characters ... The trial is riveting, but don’t expect anyone to burst into the courtroom at the last minute waving a piece of paper that upends the proceedings. The jurors aren’t secretly sleeping with the lawyers; the judge is not being paid off by the local crime boss. But it’s striking how suspenseful the story is anyway, how much we’re gripped by the small details ... And at a time when our opinions are terrifyingly polarized, Grisham reminds us that people aren’t one thing or another, but composed instead in shades of gray.
While there are lulls during some of the legal procedural bits, Grisham’s mastery of the courtroom thriller is never in question. As usual, he presents as smooth a read as you’ll ever experience. The dialogue is sharp and pointed, layered with genuine emotions that make the characters pop off the pages of this morally complex story.
... textbook Grisham — and that’s a compliment. Though its racial angle is underplayed, it is a briskly paced legal drama, with just the right amount of suspense, conflict (physical and otherwise), plot twists, courtroom theatrics and musings on legal ethics and lawyerly strategy ... As Brigance wrestles with that case as well as with his defense of Drew, Grisham’s love for the law, with all of its flaws and quirks, comes through on every page.
... a fine example of [Grisham's] well-honed skill at hooking readers right into a story ... As always in Grisham’s novels, the intricacies of legal strategy are laid out clearly, the good, the bad and the ugly. On the job as well as in his personal life, Jake is an endearing protagonist because he’s a plainly imperfect one. He makes mistakes, sometimes major ones; he cuts corners and keeps secrets and sometimes skates out to the edge of ethics.
... really a very clever setup; the story’s structure bears a slight resemblance to an episode of Columbo, in which the viewer knows more than the detective at the beginning of the episode. Grisham builds a complex, surprising, and, in places, emotionally devastating story around Jake and his teenage client. A Time for Mercy isn’t a whodunit. It’s not even really a courtroom drama, although, of course, Grisham delivers some seriously intense courtroom scenes. Ultimately, it’s a story about a community that values its secrets more than it values the truth, and Grisham tells it with great power and style.
As ever, Grisham capably covers the mores of his native turf, from gun racks to the casual use of the N-word. As well, he examines Bible Belt attitudes toward abortion and capital punishment as well as the inner workings of the courtroom ... The story runs on a touch long, as Grisham yarns tend to do, and it gets a bit gory at times, but the level of tension is satisfyingly high all the way to the oddly inconclusive end ... Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.
...[a] disappointing third outing for attorney Jake Brigance ... 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.