August Read: Furious Hours

To the potential disappointment of some readers,
“Furious Hours” is not structured as a typical murder
mystery or courtroom drama. But it’s a rich, ambitious,
beautifully written book. A gifted journalist who has
written frequently for the New Yorker, Cep has
imposed order here by providing biographical portraits
of three figures: Maxwell, Radney and Lee. Each
section moves the intrigue forward while rendering the
lives of these real people, and the forces at work
within them, as fully and fairly as possible.
John Glassie, Washington Post

The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that
Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird
“A triumph on every level . . . Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing
story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth.” —
David Grann, best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon 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.


Also suggested:
The Overstory by Richard Powers
After the Party by Cressida Connolly