Sparring Partners is a collection of three novellas with the common thread of lawyers and prisons one would expect from John Grisham.
The first story is about a man who ditched his dying wife, daughters, and a failing law practice, vanishing with money of unknown origin. No one is looking for him, but he wants to return to town and reconnect with his daughters. He’s a scoundrel, but Patterson permits you to like him.
The second story is about the last hours of a man who has lived on death row for fifteen years. It is a serious but touching story. His is a story about how reading can lift a man out of an eight-by-ten cell in solitary confinement. He’s had few visitors over the years, but his last one is a woman benefactor who's made a difference.
The third and longest story has the title of the collection, Sparring Partners, which refers to two brothers, partners in the firm their dad founded, and who hate each other. Mother, father, brothers make a dysfunctional family with a capital D. Dad’s in jail for causing the death of Mom but may be pardoned soon. The brothers don’t want that to happen. Patterson paints characters whom no reader will like but will get a laugh out of their plotting.
If you want to read harmless skullduggery that will make you grin with a story in the middle over which to shed a tear, I recommend Sparring Partners.