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Review of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (@aaknopf)


Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (5/7/19 from Knopf)


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 


I struggled with this book for about 2 weeks, picking it up and putting it down. I wanted to read about Harper Lee, the true-crime book she was working on after To Kill a Mockingbird, her friendship with Truman Capote, and how her book was going to compare with Capote’s In Cold Blood. However, the book is divided into 3 sections (“The Reverend”, “The Lawyer”, and “The Writer”) meaning I waded through 2/3 of the book (and massive amounts of information concerning Alabama politics, the complicated family tree of a serial killer, and the origins of life insurance) before I got to read about Lee. I now understand why the author laid it out in such a way, but reading this book I felt like I took some winding country road and was lost a couple of times along the way. I would recommend this to Harper Lee fans with a bit of a disclaimer to read the table of contents before diving into your reading to be prepared for the story’s trajectory.


Back Cover:
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.


Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier.

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