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!