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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Spiral-Bound | September 29, 2020

Casey Cep

★★★☆☆+ from 10,001 to 50,000 ratings

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER This “superbly written true-crime story” (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.
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Original Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 110197205X
Item Weight: 0.7 lbs
Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.0 inches
Customer Reviews: 3 out of 5 stars 10,001 to 50,000 ratings
One of the Best Books of the Year
The New York Times * The Washington Post * Time * Dallas Morning News * The Economist


“Captivating. . . . A spellbinding true crime story.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A triumph on every level. One of the losses to literature is that Harper Lee never found a way to tell a gothic true-crime story she’d spent years researching. Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth.” —David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon

“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

“Impossible to put down.” —Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

“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

"Fascinating. . . . Lyrically composed." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Stunning." —Financial Times

“A rich, ambitious, beautifully written book.” —The Washington Post

“[A] well-told, ingeniously structured double mystery.” —The Economist

“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

“A brilliant take on the mystery of inspiration and the even darker mysteries of the human heart.” —People

“A compelling hybrid of a novel, at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee.” —Southern Living

“There’s a stirring poetry to Furious Hours that eludes most contemporary nonfiction. . . . [The book] fills in the gap of Lee’s post-Mockingbird career with insatiable curiosity and impressive research. It reveals not just her intellectual interests, but within them, her personal relationships and motivations.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Gripping and meticulous, Cep’s work doesn’t make us choose between fidelity and style.” —Vulture
 
“This riveting account of both the murders and Lee’s reporting, writing, and editing process is fascinating for its behind-the-scenes look at one of the South’s cherished creative minds.” —Garden & Gun

“Essential reading.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Cep paints a vivid picture of the political and social makeup of a small Southern town, where family trees and the organizational charts of local institutions intersect often; where memories are long; and where the collective conscience of a community sometimes carries more weight than the law.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“A riveting true crime story, and a dazzling biography of one of America’s most beloved writers.” —Bustle
Casey Cep is a staff writer at The New Yorker. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in English, she earned an M.Phil in theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her family. Furious Hoursis her first book. www.caseycep.com