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Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019
Bring your sweet tea out to the porch and settle in for the strange-but-true chronicle of "the Reverend," a series of mysterious deaths in 1970s Alabama, and how Harper Lee tried for decades to turn it into the next true-crime literary phenomenon.
Told in three parts, Casey Cep's book expertly organizes the facts of the legal case, the relevant characters, and - (finally!) in part 3 - Harper Lee's interest in the case. That final third of the book is the capstone of a grand achievement. It's a truly fascinating mini-biography and comprehensive behind-the-scenes journey from To Kill A Mockingbird's success to Lee's next great literary endeavor that never came to be.
I really can't decide which is more fascinating: the voodoo-rumors and mysterious, unproven murders; or the vexing reasons for decades of writer's block and the pressure, whether real or imagined, after having written one of the best selling books of the century.
Casey Cep has written the perfect "nonfiction novel" (to use the nonsensical term Truman Capote coined while writing In Cold Blood with Harper Lee and thus forever changing the true-crime world) for your group to dive into and discuss. The legal drama is gripping, and the murders full of enough conjecture and rumors to let your group dissect plenty of theories. This book is even more perfect if your group read Go Set A Watchman, 2015's dubious follow-up to Mockingbird. The final third of Furious Hours sheds plenty of light on the murky origins and mysteries surrounding the publication of Watchman, and you'll be pleasantly enlightened by Cep's honest and engaging analysis of Lee's world.