Length: 352 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 15 minutes
First Published: 2019
Furious Hours masterfully brings together the tales of a serial killer in 1970s Alabama and of Harper Lee, the beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who tried to write his story.
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members, but with the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative assassinated him 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 himself. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.
Cep brings this remarkable story to life, from the horrifying murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South, while offering a deeply moving portrait of one of our most revered writers.
Quotes from Furious Hours
Water, like violence, is difficult to contain.
Nobody recognized her. Harper Lee was well known, but not by sight, and if she hadn’t introduced herself, it’s unlikely that anyone in the courtroom would have figured out who she was.
History isn’t what happened but what gets written down.
She had enough books to read–and movies to see, and museums to visit–to last her several lifetimes.
About Casey Cep
Casey Cep is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Cep is also the author of Furious Hours. She currently lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Visit the author’s website →