Furious Hours

Furious Hours

Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

eBook - 2019
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New York Times Best Seller   “Compelling . . . at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee. If To Kill a Mockingbird was one of your favorite books growing up, you should add Furious Hours to your reading list today.” —Southern Living   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. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more years working on her own version of the case.  Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2019.
ISBN: 9781101947876
Characteristics: 336 p.
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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dzroka
Jan 10, 2020

Furious Hours is an interesting read with a unique set up. It has two distinctive parts, although the book is broken into three parts. The first two parts tell the ominous tale of a Reverend suspected of committing multiple murders in order to collect on life insurance policies and the jury trial of the guy that ultimately kills the Reverend. The dialogues quoted in the trial are from actual court transcripts, per the Notes at the end of the book. Harper Lee shows up in part three. This part provides insight to her life and personality, in particular her relationships with her sisters, father, Truman Capote, neighbors, and friends. It also provides insight to the life of a writer, one that gained immediate success and publicity with one book and then struggled for decades to write a second. But more than this, the book offers a glimpse of the Southerner and the pride of Alabamians. Harper Lee understood that it was not uncommon for Southerners to oppose the Ku Klux Klan but at the same time support segregation. It was the New York editors that had her rework her original manuscript that left Atticus Finch as the archetype of justice and equality. I can see why this book was on Obama's 2019 reading list.

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oldwestfan
Dec 03, 2019

I agree with some of the other comments that at some points the author goes meandering into backgrounds and histories that are not directly germane to the story, and I found myself skipping ahead to where she gets back on track. I can't tell if this was deliberate padding or she was just having so much fun she couldn't help herself, and neither did the editor.

That said, this is an extremely well written book about the public-averse Harper Lee, and a strange serial murder case that she unsuccessfully tried to make her long-awaited 2nd book, Along the way it delves into Lee's personal history including her friendship with Truman Capote and her involvement with In Cold Blood. It's an overall excellent read for those interested in the subject.

b
brigpa1
Sep 28, 2019

I really liked this book. The story of The Reverend was a true story of the Old Soth. I liked the trial and also am always fascinated with the bios of HL and Capote. My only criticism is, as mentioned previously,TMI about insurance policies and other trivial info about courts and over detailing about HL's later life. But I found I could not wait to get back to it.

4
4ntrvlr
Jun 16, 2019

I don’t get why this book is so highly rated. IMHO it would’ve been good as one or two long-form articles, but as a book it seems padded. The book is divided into 3 sections- about the murderer & murders; about the attorney (WAY too long!) and basically a biography of Harper Lee. While the writing is excellent, you have to be really interested in Harper Lee & Alabama to be blown away by this book. (The former could explain why the NYC literati gave this book raves. )

Hillsboro_ElizabethH Jun 06, 2019

While I understand this is the true crime Harper Lee wanted to write, I don't think that this would be it. Much too wordy, and honestly, too much information. Good try, though.

p
pondgrl
Jun 06, 2019

I tried. I really did - way too much gratuitous information. I got to the point that I would skip several pages, hoping it would get better, but it was just difficult to get through. If just the facts were presented, perhaps the novel would have been a too short - I'm not sure.

lrule207 Jun 04, 2019

It takes the reader's patience for the two stories of the murder and Harper Lee to come together in this book. The first half of the book details the murders and trial. The second half is about the Harper Lee connection - finally. The author took two very loosely connected stories and wrote about one, then the other. It's all good though as the author is a compelling writer and the material lends itself to this approach.

debwalker Apr 18, 2019

True crime and Harper Lee.

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