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A Time to Kill by John Grisham

A Time to Kill (1989)

by John Grisham

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8,21998381 (3.82)86
Recently added byDaniella.McCafferty, debicakes77, private library, nzhunt, wdwhitaker
  1. 111
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: A Time to Kill's courtroom drama and emphasis on race relations in a small town in the South definitely brought to mind the trial scenes in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
  2. 10
    The King of Lies by John Hart (VictoriaPL)
  3. 10
    The Quiet Game by Greg Iles (VictoriaPL)
  4. 01
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (citygirl)
    citygirl: The ugliness of small-town Mississippi in racial matters wrapped in a compelling, page-turning story.

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Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
John Grisham for me is the Stephen King of 'legal suspense' fiction: the memory of reading his novels first time around is often way better than the experience of re-reading them again years later. I think I read most of his titles, up to A Painted House, but I thought A Time To Kill was a lot better than it actually is. Although, this was Grisham's first novel (and it shows). Maybe I'm thinking of The Pelican Brief.

Anyway, I think everyone knows the plot - a ten year old black girl is raped by two rednecks in a small Mississippi town, and her father, despairing of ever getting justice in the courts, shoots them both dead. Jake Brigance, Grisham's obnoxious young lawyer, is hired to defend him. Improbable, but suitably dramatic. What I think I forgot - or overlooked - was the high cliche count, and just how crass the writing is. Jake is a pig, for a start. Not a colourful character who the reader loves to hate, because Grisham obviously wants everyone to love him, but a pig. His historic house is burned down, along with his daughter's dog, and his response is along the lines of 'Meh'. His improbably attractive and intelligent assistant is dragged into the woods, tied to a pole, stripped and assaulted, and Jake dismisses her trauma with 'She'll be fine'. The ten year old girl is also 'fine' by the end of the novel. The misogyny in this novel is almost as disgusting as the racism, the latter of which is mostly intentional but still nauseating to read. The 'n-word' is used 142 times, mostly by Jake and his friends.

Grisham has claimed to have been inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird, and I can see the determined similarities, but Grisham in not Harper Lee and Jake Brigance isn't worthy to carry Atticus Finch's briefcase. I'm also a little depressed that the same level of obviously racism exists in both eras (and into today). Now I'm just annoyed that I downloaded this along with the sequel Sycamore Row! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 31, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This early Grisham novel reminds us why we love the author in the first place. While this is enjoyable and highly recommended, it also serves as a sobering reminder of the authors inconsistency over the last few years. While Grisham has preserved his reputation as a best selling author, his latest works pale in comparison to his early books. Read this novel as a reminder of how great Grisham can be! ( )
  es135 | Jun 29, 2015 |
Really liked the beginning, but the second half really slowed down on the action. I also found some loose story ends. Characters had a very nice depth to them however, and the story is compelling overall. ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence... as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town... Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault... ( )
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  Tutter | Mar 2, 2015 |
Loved the story! John Grisham's early work. Could not put the book down ! ( )
  debrarbell | Feb 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
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To Renée,
  A woman of uncommon beauty,
  A fiercely loyal friend,
  A compassionate critic,
  A doting mother,
A perfect wife.
First words
Billy Ray Cobb was the younger and smaller of the two rednecks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Clanton, Mississippi

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until the black father acquires an assault rifle - and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack fo sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, then nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client's life .. and then his own ...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385338600, Paperback)

This addictive tale of a young lawyer defending a black Vietnam war hero who kills the white druggies who raped his child in tiny Clanton, Mississippi, is John Grisham's first novel, and his favorite of his first six. He polished it for three years and every detail shines like pebbles at the bottom of a swift, sunlit stream. Grisham is a born legal storyteller and his dialogue is pitch perfect.

The plot turns with jeweled precision. Carl Lee Hailey gets an M-16 from the Chicago hoodlum he'd saved at Da Nang, wastes the rapists on the courthouse steps, then turns to attorney Jake Brigance, who needs a conspicuous win to boost his career. Folks want to give Carl Lee a second medal, but how can they ignore premeditated execution? The town is split, revealing its social structure. Blacks note that a white man shooting a black rapist would be acquitted; the KKK starts a new Clanton chapter; the NAACP, the ambitious local reverend, a snobby, Harvard-infested big local firm, and others try to outmaneuver Jake and his brilliant, disbarred drunk of an ex-law partner. Jake hits the books and the bottle himself. Crosses burn, people die, crowds chant "Free Carl Lee!" and "Fry Carl Lee!" in the antiphony of America's classical tragedy. Because he's lived in Oxford, Mississippi, Grisham gets compared to Faulkner, but he's really got the lean style and fierce folk moralism of John Steinbeck. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:12 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

When Carl Lee Hailey guns down the monsters who have raped his ten-year-old child, the people of Clanton see it as a crime of blood and call for his acquittal. But when extremists outside Clanton hear that a black man has killed two white men, they invade the town, determined to destroy anything and anyone that opposes their sense of justice.… (more)

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