Casey Cep blends true crime with Southern lit in Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Thursday 8/15, 7 pm
Since the release of her debut this May, Casey Cep's words have been celebrated in publications running the gamut from The New York Times Book Review and The Economist to Southern Living and Garden & Gun. Her book climbed the New York Times bestseller list and received nods of praise from fellow authors Michael Lewis and Helen Macdonald. Flyleaf staff members read and raved about Furious Hours; we were blown away by the scope of the story, and even more so by Cep's style in telling it. Furious Hours is a true story, and an impressively well-researched one at that, but it reads like a novel, a masterpiece of Southern literature that takes cues from the canon but carves out its own space. Within that space, Cep tells the story of an original series of crimes, the ones that followed, and the mesmerized crowd (featuring a certain American literary figure) that watched it all unfold.
Join us at Flyleaf Books this August to welcome Casey Cep for a reading and signing event!
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead 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.
Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more years working on her own version of the case.
Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.
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.