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


Overview - "In 'Furious Hours,' Casey Cep reconstructed years of investigative work Harper Lee devoted to a series of killings in the 1970s. 'People ask me sometimes, do I think she would like the book?' Cep says. 'I respect her enough to say, probably not.'"Read the complete New York Times interview here.

Click Here For the Autographed Copy

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

“…it’s…in her descriptions of another writer’s failure to write, that her book makes a magical little 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 for The New York Times

"A triumph on every level . . . Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth." --David Grann, best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon


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.

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More About Furious Hours by Casey Cep
 
 
 
Overview
"In 'Furious Hours,' Casey Cep reconstructed years of investigative work Harper Lee devoted to a series of killings in the 1970s. 'People ask me sometimes, do I think she would like the book?' Cep says. 'I respect her enough to say, probably not.'"Read the complete New York Times interview here.

Click Here For the Autographed Copy

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

“…it’s…in her descriptions of another writer’s failure to write, that her book makes a magical little 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 for The New York Times

"A triumph on every level . . . Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth." --David Grann, best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon


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.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101947869
  • ISBN-10: 1101947861
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: May 2019
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary Figures
Books > True Crime > Murder - Serial Killers
Books > History > United States - State & Local - South (AL,AR,FL,GA,KY,LA,MS,

 
BookPage Reviews

Furious Hours

While Harper Lee fans were almost unanimously disenchanted with the 2015 publication of her eons-awaited second novel, Go Set a Watchman, they’ll likely be intrigued by Casey Cep’s account of the true crime book that Lee attempted but ultimately failed to write.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee tells the strange saga of Reverend Willie Maxwell, a black Alabama preacher accused of murdering five members of his family for insurance money in the 1970s. Law enforcement officers and insurance officials suspected something was up but had no hard evidence, while Maxwell’s followers whispered rumors of voodoo after his relatives kept turning up dead by the side of the road. 

At the funeral of Maxwell’s last victim, his 16-year-old stepdaughter, he was shot dead by one of the girl’s relatives, Robert Burns, who until that moment had been a hardworking, law-abiding family man. Amazingly, despite the fact that hundreds of mourners witnessed the shooting, Burns was ultimately acquitted of his crime. 

Attending the trial was Lee, who wrote that Maxwell “might not have believed in what he preached, he might not have believed in voodoo, but he had a profound and abiding belief in insurance.” After studying law at the University of Alabama, Lee was naturally intrigued by the Maxwell story—although she realized “all too well that the story of a black serial killer wasn’t what readers would expect from the author of To Kill a Mockingbird.” She spent nearly a decade working on a manuscript she called “The Reverend” but ultimately abandoned the project, much to the disappointment of many of the citizens of Alexander City, where Maxwell’s murder took place.

Cep, a thorough researcher and polished writer, divides this sprawling tale into three parts: first telling Maxwell’s story, then chronicling the lawyer who once had Maxwell as a client and ultimately represented Maxwell’s killer, and finally explaining the famous novelist’s fascination with and involvement in the case.

Harper Lee fans may find themselves impatient to read about her, as she doesn’t appear until more than halfway through the book, but they’ll be rewarded for the wait. While the myriad mysteries about Lee’s life seem unlikely to ever be resolved, Furious Hours offers an absorbing glimpse into the gifted but guarded life of this enigmatic literary hero.

 
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