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

 
9781785150739: Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
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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. Lee had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. She 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 America’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

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Review:

"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')

"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)

"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')

"It’s one measure of just how rich Casey Cep’s material is, and how artfully she handles it, that I have given away only about a tenth of the interest and delight contained within the first third of her book ... [Casey Cep] explains as well as it is likely ever to be explained why Lee went silent after To Kill a Mockingbird" (New York Times)

"Gripping but always judicious ... Cep persuasively argues that the appeal of all this to Lee went well beyond that of a cracking story ... Almost every individual part of the book rattles along compulsively, while also providing some neat and telling changes of perspective. As well as the enthralling central story, there’s plenty of great stuff on the always eye-popping business of southern politics. And perhaps best of all, Furious Hours triumphantly rescues Harper Lee from the myth she’s been in danger of disappearing into - and restores her to full and recognisable human life." (Daily Telegraph)

"[An] intriguing book ... What gives Furious Hours its frisson is that the author who hoped to follow in Capote’s footsteps was his old friend, Harper Lee ... Cep ably takes on the task that Lee may or may not have abandoned ... Ms Cep paints a portrait of a hermetic society still riven by prejudice ... Then she pieces together Lee’s struggle not only with Maxwell’s tale but with the legacy of her overwhelming success ... Furious Hours is a well-told, ingeniously structured double mystery – one an unsolved serial killing, the other an elusive book – rich in droll humour and deep but lightly worn research." (Economist)

"Accomplished and compelling ... All this is gold-dust for a writer, and Cep has used it well ... She draws a vivid portrait of the characters embroiled in these dreadful crimes, the community they affected, and the rekindling of Lee’s writing they promised." (Herald)

"The makings of a fascination tale are certainly present, and Cep writes with wonderful evocation and intelligence about the racial, political and cultural backgrounds against which this drama too place ... Casey Cep has elegantly filled in the gaps." (Spectator)

About the Author:

Casey Cep is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in English, she earned an M.Phil in theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The New Republic, among other publications. This is her first book.

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Casey Cep
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ISBN 10: 1785150731 ISBN 13: 9781785150739
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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2019. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTIONLONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 CWA ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTIONChosen as one of Barack Obama's favourite books of 2019'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 MockingbirdReverend 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. Lee had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. She 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 America'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. Seller Inventory # AAZ9781785150739

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