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

Wow! Casey Cep’s first book is an incredible read. Harper Lee was Truman Capote’s friend and research assistant on In Cold Blood.  Many years later, Lee got very involved researching a series of murders in Alabama committed about 2.5 hours from her own home in Monroeville and told not only friends but the press that she was writing her first new book since To Kill a Mockingbird. She wanted to be more factual about this one than Capote had been about In Cold Blood.

When Lee died without finishing the book, a lot of folks in Alabama were disappointed. Casey Cep, a brilliant young writer with The New Yorker and The New York Times, takes Harper Lee’s notes and all the incredible documentation she got from Lee’s estate, and writes the book! There are 3 distinct sections — the story of Willie Maxwell, the accused murderer, the story of his lawyer, Tom Radney who also exonerated Willie’s killer, and the story of Harper Lee from her childhood with Truman Capote through to her recent death.

The prose in this book is terrific; I read it out loud to my husband and we were both hanging on every word, even the bit about the history of insurance. A great true crime story and a wonderful series of biographies all wrapped up in one. You will enjoy every minute of this book. Can’t wait for Casey Cep’s next one — she’s a master of nonfiction on her first book!



Emilie Hogan’s Best Reads of 2016

December 12, 2016

emilie hogan photoMy name is Emilie Hogan, and I have lived in Evanston since 2005. I am very happily married to my wonderful spouse, Bill Hogan, and the mother of four terrific daughters ages 15, 12, 10 and 8. I am the Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for the Frances Willard Historical Association, a Board member of Books & Breakfast, and a community organizer, activist and volunteer. My hobbies are reading and CrossFit and my passion is learning new things. I am an endlessly curious person! I absolutely love the Evanston Public Library, and it is one of my very favorite places in town along with Bennisons, Boltwood and the Frances Willard House.

1) Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979)

This is the story of a woman who travels back in time to help her ancestors on a slave plantation. The story will challenge your thoughts about family loyalty and keep you on the edge of your seat from the first sentence.

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Most Influential Books By Women

September 2, 2014

Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird won the top vote for most influential book written by women. A selection of 20 titles voted by the public was launched harperleeto find novels by women “that have most impacted, shaped or changed readers’ lives”. Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti described Ms. Lee’s novel as “the book that introduced many of us to our belief in human rights,” adding “with human rights under attack the world over, the enduring appeal of Harper Lee’s great tale gives hope that justice and equality might yet triumph over prejudice”. Other titles on the list include classics, science fiction, romance and children’s literature. Read the full article in The Guardian and check out the entire list  here.


50th Anniversary of “Mockingbird” Marked Nationally

June 1, 2010

This article in the NY Times explains the various activities planned to celebrate a half century of the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Not surprisingly, the reclusive author, Harper Lee, is not planning on participating in public gatherings honoring her famous work.