Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
By Casey Cep
One of the Best Books of the Year
The New York Times * The Washington Post * Time * Dallas Morning News * The Economist
This “superbly written true-crime story” (Michael Lewis, The New York Times Book Review) masterfully brings together the tales of a serial killer in 1970s Alabama and of Harper Lee, the beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who tried to write his story.
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members, but with the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative assassinated him 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 himself. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.
Cep brings this remarkable story to life, from the horrifying murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South, while offering a deeply moving portrait of one of our most revered writers
“Captivating. . . . A spellbinding true crime story.” —The New York Times Book Review
“An enthralling work of narrative nonfiction. . . . Cep delivers edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama while brilliantly reinventing Southern Gothic.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“The sort of story that even Lee would have been proud to write.” —Michael Lewis, The New York Times
“A marvel.” —Time
“Remarkable, thoroughly researched. . . . Cep manages the feat that all great nonfiction aspires to: combining the clean precision of fact with the urgency of gossip.” —The New York Review of Books
“A rich, ambitious, beautifully written book.” —The Washington Post
“A gripping, incredibly well-written portrait of not only Harper Lee, but of mid-20th century Alabama. . . . What I didn’t see coming was the emotional response I’d have as I blazed through the last 20 pages of the book—yet there I was, weeping.” —Ilana Masad, NPR