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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Casey Cep

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Paperback

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WILLIAM HEINEMANN
07 May 2019
True crime; Prose: non-fiction
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 'A triumph on every level. One of the losses to literature is that Harper Lee never found a way to tell a gothic true-crime story she'd spent years researching. Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth.' DAVID GRANN, author of Killers of the Flower Moon _____________________________ The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird 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.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it's not long until news of the case reaches Alabama's - and America's - most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend's killer face trial. Harper had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. Lee spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

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.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn't. _____________________________ 'Fascinating ... Cep has spliced together a Southern-gothic tale of multiple murder and the unhappy story of Lee's literary career, to produce a tale that is engrossing in its detail and deeply poignant... Cep spends the first third of Furious Hours following the jaw-dropping trail of murders ... Engrossing ... Cep writes about all this with great skill, sensitivity and attention to detail.' SUNDAY TIMES 'It's been a long time since I picked up a book so impossible to put down. Furious Hours made me forget dinner, ignore incoming calls, and stay up reading into the small hours. It's a work of literary and legal detection as gripping as a thriller. But it's also a meditation on motive and mystery, the curious workings of history, hope, and ambition, justice, and the darkest matters of life and death. Casey Cep's investigation into an infamous Southern murder trial and Harper Lee's quest to write about it is a beautiful, sobering, and sometimes chilling triumph.' HELEN MACDONALD, author of H is for Hawk 'This story is just too good ... Furious Hours builds and builds until it collides with the writer who saw the power of Maxwell's story, but for some reason was unable to harness it. It lays bare the inner life of a woman who had a world-class gift for hiding ... this book makes a magical leap, and it goes from being a superbly written true-crime story to the sort of story that even Lee would have been proud to write.' MICHAEL LEWIS, author of Moneyball and The Big Short
By:   Casey Cep
Imprint:   WILLIAM HEINEMANN
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   440g
ISBN:   9781785150746
ISBN 10:   178515074X
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   07 May 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Casey Cep graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She studied ministry at Yale Divinity School and has delivered guest sermons at churches along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she lives. She writes for the New Yorker's Page Turner, the Paris Review and the New York Times, among others.

Reviews for Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

It's been a long time since I picked up a book so impossible to put down. Furious Hours made me forget dinner, ignore incoming calls, and stay up reading into the small hours. It's a work of literary and legal detection as gripping as a thriller. But it's also a meditation on motive and mystery, the curious workings of history, hope, and ambition, justice, and the darkest matters of life and death. Casey Cep's investigation into an infamous Southern murder trial and Harper Lee's quest to write about it is a beautiful, sobering, and sometimes chilling triumph. -- Helen Macdonald, author of 'H is for Hawk' This story is just too good ... Furious Hours builds and builds until it collides with the writer who saw the power of Maxwell's story, but for some reason was unable to harness it. It lays bare the inner life of a woman who had a world-class gift for hiding ... [this] book makes a magical leap, and it goes from being a superbly written true-crime story to the sort of story that even Lee would have been proud to write. -- Michael Lewis, author of 'Moneyball' and 'The Big Short' This story is just too good ... Furious Hours builds and builds until it collides with the writer who saw the power of Maxwell's story, but for some reason was unable to harness it. It lays bare the inner life of a woman who had a world-class gift for hiding ... [this] book makes a magical leap, and it goes from being a superbly written true-crime story to the sort of story that even Lee would have been proud to write. -- Michael Lewis, author of 'Moneyball' and 'The Big Short' Fascinating ... Cep has spliced together a Southern-gothic tale of multiple murder and the unhappy story of Lee's literary career, to produce a tale that is engrossing in its detail and deeply poignant... [Cep] spends the first third of Furious Hours following the jaw-dropping trail of murders ... Engrossing ... Cep writes about all this with great skill, sensitivity and attention to detail. * Sunday Times * With its rich cast of characters, the polar opposite settings of New York and rural Alabama, Cep's dark humour and painstaking research, there is a great deal to enjoy ... a rich and rewarding read. * The Times *


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