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

Author: Casey Cep

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

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.

The Review

I have never come across anyone who didn’t love To Kill A Mockingbird. Equally, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t slightly disappointed with Go Set a Watchman. After all those years of wanting more from Harper Lee her audience weren’t exactly infused with joy with her second release. Having said that, we all would probably have wanted more from Harper Lee.

In Casey Cep’s Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee we get to see an inside picture of why we had to wait so long for Harper Lee’s work and more importantly how she struggled for decades to write something as good, as important as To Kill a Mockingbird.

Furious Hours is a good read. Casey Cep is a good writer. However, I do feel that Furious Hours could have been much shorter. There was an awful lot of background information given that had very little impact in the overall story of Harper Lee planning to write her novel on a crime that took place. A lot of it was irrelevant.

That being said, Furious Hours is an interesting read, it is well researched and the insight into Harper Lee’s life is fascinating. We finally get an impression of who this reclusive writer was.

Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep is available now.

For more information regarding Casey Cep (@cncep) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

The Blurb

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humour and effortless precision – a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to a classic.

The Review

I was terrified to read Go Set A Watchman; like so many others who have read and love To Kill A Mockingbird I was worried that Go Set A Watchman would ruin it. This anxiety was advanced further when I saw snippets of other people’s reviews and they were not positive. However, I can say this about Go Set A Watchman, a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird that was 55 years in the making, did not disappoint me. Not one bit.

Harper Lee’s inimitable style makes it feel like Go Set A Watchman hasn’t taken over five decades to be released. The story segues so smoothly. The story follows Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch two decades after To Kill A Mockingbird as she returns home from New York to visit her father.

Personally, I cannot see what all the negative reviews were about. The story is really about growing up and removing the rose tinted glasses that make you idealise your family; in this case Atticus Finch. Much like Scout Finch, the people who have read To Kill A Mockingbird pitched Atticus Finch as a paragon of virtue. When they find out that he isn’t as perfect as he seemed then they feel let down. It is like that very personal moment that most people go through when they realise that their parents are not just their mum and dad but people also.

Go Set A Watchman was beautiful and in a weird way a little bit heartbreaking. It was totally worth the wait.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee is available now.