John Grisham's "Sycamore Row" revisits "A Time to Kill" character

(CBS News) Nearly a quarter-century after John Grisham's 1989 debut "A Time to Kill," he's bringing readers back to Clanton, Miss., with the new courtroom novel "Sycamore Row."

Grisham's new book is the latest pick for "CBS This Morning Reads."

In the new book, readers reunite with "A Time to Kill" character Jake Brigance, who becomes embroiled in another controversial case. The story focuses on a wealthy business man who commits suicide and leaves 90 percent of his money to his black maid in a handwritten will.

John Grisham's "A Time to Kill" heading to Broadway

"He was dying of lung cancer and he was in great pain and he decided to end it all," said Grisham on "CBS This Morning." "Right before he killed himself, he redid his will. He had a big thick will done by his lawyers, he shoved that aside, rejected that and hand-wrote a will -- which you can still do in almost every state, if you write all of it and sign it yourself -- left everything to his black housekeeper -- and that's the first chapter. ... It turns into a huge will contest, and Jake, our hero, is in the middle of it in Clanton, (Miss.), in the same courtroom and all of that."

Grisham also told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that many people tell him "A Time to Kill" was their favorite of his books and would often ask about a sequel. He said that he needed to wait until he had the story. But once he did, the story kept flowing.

There's so many wonderful anecdotes and stories to tell from Ford County," he said.

While Grisham has written many other books, he, as well as others -- including his wife Renee Grisham -- had doubts about being able to construct a sequel worthy of "A Time to Kill." However, "Sycamore Row" has been getting very positive reviews from the critics.

The Washington Post's Patrick Anderson wrote: "I think that if Faulkner were still down in Oxford and chanced to read 'Sycamore Row,' he would raise a glass of good bourbon and toast the younger writer for a job well done."

Told of that review, Grisham told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts: "I'm sure he would drink the bourbon, I'm not sure he would say nice things about me."

He added, "I can't judge these things. ... I'll tell you what I can tell you. I didn't want to finish the book. Normally, when I start a book, I've got about six months and I got it all planned. As it gets closer to the deadline, I can't wait to get finished because I'm really tired of the characters and the plot line. This book, I could have written a thousand pages."

For more with Grisham, including talk about "A Time to Kill" on Broadway and how he relates to "A Time to Kill" protagonist Jake Brigance, watch his full interview above.