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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last…

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee (edition 2019)

by Casey Cep (Author)

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5013434,466 (3.99)65
New York Times Best Seller   "Compelling . . . at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee. If To Kill a Mockingbird was one of your favorite books growing up, you should add Furious Hours to your reading list today." --Southern Living   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.… (more)
Title:Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Authors:Casey Cep (Author)
Info:Knopf (2019), Edition: 1st, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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

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» See also 65 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Parts of this book are lovely and Cep is a talented writer if a bit too in love with a southern gothic sensibility. I kept waiting for the "so what" -- it never comes. It read like a heavily padded magazine piece trading on Lee's well-deserved fame and Maxwell's notoriety. I just didn't learn anything -- too much of a set piece. ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
Reverend Willie Maxwell is the Southern Black version of serial murder Robert Durst, where all his wives and friends end up dead but nobody can pin the murders on him until someone gets tired of Rev Maxwell and pops a cap into him. It's an interesting story, but it goes on too long. All I got through was the murder and the fraud, and lost interest in the trial. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
This is not what I expected it to be, but that doesn't mean it was bad. The first half is about the Alabama case of a preacher and the life insurance contracts he took out on people, who then died. The first half of the second half is about Harper Lee and Truman Capote. The second half of the second half is about Harper Lee, including a bit about her research into the preacher murder case. And the last 10 pages get to a maybe, perhaps, who knows explanation of why Harper Lee never wrote the book about the case she had so meticulously researched. Each part was interesting in its way. I did get irritated when the author stopped the flow of my reading by inserting history lessons, phrases and words that I felt were meant to make sure we know how intelligent and educated and literary the author is. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | May 26, 2020 |
Nonfiction at its very best. The book bounces from the murder of an alleged serial killer to the childhood of Truman Capote and Harper Lee. It remains fascinating throughout, especially for those of us interested in Lee’s life. The author’s research provides an in-depth look at Lee‘s life and the murder cases, but it never overwhelms the narrative. She uncovers the details of the book Lee attempted to write and presents them with respect and context. ( )
  bookworm12 | Mar 19, 2020 |
Part true crime, part biography, part history, this account of Harper Lee's attempt to write a second novel is truly fascinating. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Feb 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
She explains as well as it is likely ever to be explained why Lee went silent after “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (The clue’s in Cep’s title.) And it’s here, 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.
Lee spent many years working on the project, but it never saw the light of day. Instead, more than four decades later, we have Cep’s absorbing new volume, which succeeds in telling the story that Nelle Harper Lee could not and offers an affecting account of Lee’s attempt to give meaning to a startling series of events.
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We are bound by a common anguish.

------Harper Lee
For my father and my mother,
who gave me a pocket watch,
then taught me to tell time
and everything else
First words
Nobody recognized her.
No longer legally able to subjugate other people, wealthy white southerners turned their attention to nature instead. The untamed world seemed to them at worst like a mortal danger, seething with disease and constantly threatening disaster, and at best like a terrible waste. The numberless trees could be timber, the forests could be farms, the malarial swamps could be drained and turned to solid ground, wolves and bears and other fearsome predators could be throw rugs, taxidermy, and dinner. And as for the rivers, why should they get to play while people had to work? In the words of the president of the Alabama Power Company, Thomas Martin, “Every loafing stream is loafing at the public expense.” (p.7)
The boll weevil came north from Mexico and destroyed the cotton crop; the Communist Party came south to organize sharecroppers, and horrific violence followed in its wake. The Great Depression came from Wall Street and stayed in Alabama for a long, long time, longer than the boys who traveled to the local C.C.C. camp for a spell before returning to New Jersey or New York. (p. 11)
Violence has a way of destroying everything but itself. A murdered person’s name always threatens to become synonymous with her murder; a murdered person’s death always threatens to eclipse her life. That was especially true of an economically marginal black woman in Alabama. (p. 25)
...southerners were steeped in a culture that gave them something to do when the world was alarming or incomprehensible. In that, of course, they were not alone; like banshees in Ireland or fairy glens in Scotland or the ghosts and goblins of the Tohoku region of Japan, the influence of voodoo culture in the South pervaded its landscapes and enchanted its people, regardless of race, from cradle to grave. (p. 45)
it was better to believe that, in the face of conjuring, there was nothing that law enforcement and the judicial system could do than to believe that, in the face of terrible crimes, they had not done enough. Supernatural explanations flourish where law and order fails, which is why, as time passed and more people died, the stories about the Reverend grew stronger, stranger, and, if possible, more sinister. (p. 46)
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