Book Summary: Furious Hours by Casey Cep

Furious Hours by Casey Cep Book Cover

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee is a non-fiction book written by Casey Cep. The book explores the true crime story of the Reverend Willie Maxwell, a preacher in Alabama who was accused of murdering five of his family members. The story gained national attention in the 1970s and was eventually turned into a book by Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Cep’s book delves into the details of the case and the aftermath, as well as the life and career of Harper Lee.

The first chapter of Furious Hours introduces the reader to the life and crimes of Reverend Willie Maxwell. Maxwell was a charismatic preacher who gained a large following in the small town of Alexander City, Alabama. However, he was also known to be a womanizer and was accused of embezzling funds from his church. In 1970, Maxwell’s wife and three children were killed in a car accident. Over the next few years, four more people close to Maxwell died under suspicious circumstances, leading many to believe that he was responsible for their deaths.

Chapter 2: The Faith Healer

In this chapter, Cep explores the world of faith healing and the role it played in Maxwell’s life and crimes. Maxwell claimed to have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, and many of his followers believed him. This belief gave Maxwell a level of power and control over his followers that he used to manipulate them and cover up his crimes.

Chapter 3: The Last Trial of Harper Lee

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was born and raised in Alabama and was deeply affected by the civil rights movement. In the 1970s, she became interested in the Maxwell case and wrote a book about it, which was never published. Cep explores Lee’s motivations for writing the book and the impact it had on her career and personal life.

Chapter 4: The Journalist

In this chapter, Cep introduces the reader to Tom Wolfe, a journalist who covered the Maxwell case for a national magazine. Wolfe’s article on the case was widely read and helped to bring attention to the story. Cep explores Wolfe’s writing style and the impact he had on the field of journalism.

Chapter 5: The Prosecutor

The final chapter of Furious Hours focuses on the prosecutor who tried Maxwell for the murder of his wife and children. Cep explores the challenges faced by the prosecutor and the impact of the case on his life and career.

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Conclusion

Furious Hours is a compelling and well-researched book that delves into the true crime story of the Reverend Willie Maxwell and the aftermath of the case. Cep’s writing is engaging and informative, and she does an excellent job of weaving together the various threads of the story. The book is also a fascinating look at the world of true crime and the impact it has had on American culture. Overall, Furious Hours is a must-read for anyone interested in true crime or the life and career of Harper Lee.

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