Friday, February 6, 2015

A Time to Kill

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery & Crime
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: A Time to Kill follows young lawyer, Jake Brigance, trying the case of his career. The novel starts with two white men raping ten year old, Tonya Hailey, who is a black girl. The book is set in Mississipi where racism is still high and everyone knows that there is a high chance that the two men won't be tried for their crimes so Tonya's father, Carl Lee, takes it his own hands and shoots the two boys dead in the courthouse because he knows he'll never get justice for his little girl going through the correct channels. This then leads to Carl Lee being arrested for murder. A Time to Kill follows Brigance trying to prove that Carl Lee was insane due to his grief at the time of the killings and therefore is not guilty but also sees his life going to hell as the Ku Klux Klan come back to Clanton to terrorise those helping a 'negro' get free after his crime towards the whites.

A Time to Kill is Grisham's debut novel that was released back in 1989 and only got a small five thousand book deal from the twenty ninth publisher he sent it too. It wasn't until he released several more books that A Time to Kill got the audience that it truly deserves. I first studied this novel in English Literature classes in my G.C.S.E. years as we contrasted it to To Kill a Mockingbird and that put this and the movie adaptation (which has an all star cast if you ever want to sit and watch it) on my list of all time favourite.

I am not usually a fan of novels that follow the order side towards 'Law and Order' but when it came to A Time to Kill I could not put the novel down. Each character had their own individual traits that Grisham caught perfectly. We saw Brigance's downwards spiral as the case consumed him with each chapter, including his sudden reliance on alcohol, happen flawlessly without any sudden leaps in changes. Grisham makes you feel for each character as they go through their journeys but more importantly it evokes a discussion between those who have read it or haven't. Is Carl Lee guilty or not guilty?


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