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Casey Cep - Furious Hours

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The Book Loft of German Village

631 South 3rd Street

Columbus, OH 43206

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FURIOUS HOURS - Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

“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

“In this effortlessly immersive narrative, Cep engagingly traces how Lee found the case and began—and ultimately abandoned—a project she called The Reverend. Cep writes with the accessible erudition of podcast-style journalism; she breathes not only life, but style into her exhaustive, impressively researched narrative…A well-tempered blend of true crime and literary lore.”

Kirkus Reviews

“It’s been a long time since I picked up a book so impossible to put down. Furious Hours made me forget dinner, ignore incoming calls, and stay up reading into the small hours. It’s a work of literary and legal detection as gripping as a thriller. But it’s also a meditation on motive and mystery, the curious workings of history, hope, and ambition, justice, and the darkest matters of life and death. Casey Cep’s investigation into an infamous Southern murder trial and Harper Lee’s quest to write about it is a beautiful, sobering, and sometimes chilling triumph.”

Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

“Harper Lee loved a good true-crime story—witness her vital contributions to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. In Cep’s thrilling account of an Alabama murderer, his killer, and the lawyer who got them both off, we get to see the To Kill a Mockingbird author hot on the trail of some slippery characters while she struggles to write a worthy follow-up to her iconic novel.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

“This fascinating book—the first by Casey Cep, a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland—examines the true-crime story and courtroom drama that obsessed writer Harper Lee seventeen years after the completion of To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee spent a year in Alabama researching the case but struggled to tell the story, which remained unfinished decades later.”

Southern Living

“In what is already one of the most talked about nonfiction books of 2019, Casey Cep weaves together the stunning stories of an Alabama serial killer and the In Cold Blood-style nonfiction book about him that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a fascinating true crime narrative that offers an intimate look at the life, work, and personal struggles of one of America's most beloved authors.”

Bustle

New Yorker writer Casey Cep’s FURIOUS HOURS: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee (Alfred A. Knopf, May 7, 2019 / $26.95) tells 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.

The page-turning narrative begins with Reverend Willie Maxwell, a rural preacher accused of murdering five family members for insurance money in the 1970s, and with Tom Radney, the savvy Alabama lawyer and politician who defended him for years, in both his murder cases and against the insurance companies. When Maxwell was murdered himself—in retribution, in front of 300 witnesses, at the funeral of his final victim—Radney defended the killer, too, in a widely publicized trial. Cep weaves these narrative threads together with the largely unknown story of Harper Lee’s later years. Lee was fascinated by the Maxwell case and attended the trial; she had traveled from New York City with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the classic she helped Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier in Kansas.


FURIOUS HOURS brings this unbelievable story to life—from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South—and deftly explores southern culture, voodoo, race, Alabama politics, and our criminal justice system. Beyond the incredible tale Cep tells, she peers at the mystery of artistic creativity and offers a compelling, empathetic, and unusual portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers.

Cep’s reporting is based on new materials no one has yet written about, including a surviving first chapter Lee wrote of her book called The Reverend.

About the Author

CASEY CEP is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in English, she earned an M.Phil in theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among other publications. This is her first book.

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The Book Loft of German Village

631 South 3rd Street

Columbus, OH 43206

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