Casey Cep is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among many other publications. Her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, will be published by Knopf in May of 2019. Preorder a copy now. A proud graduate of the Talbot County Public Schools, she has an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
I’ve loved Harper Lee’s work since I was a child. Like so many of her other admirers, I was shocked a few years ago by the announcement that she would be publishing a new novel. I set off for Alabama right away, and while I was down there reporting on Go Set a Watchman for The New Yorker, I learned about a different book that Lee had tried to write in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.
This one was darker, stranger, and made me reconsider what I thought I knew about one of my favorite writers. Lee had found a truly jaw-dropping true-crime story about a small-town preacher accused of killing five of his family members for the insurance money, about the vigilante who shot him, and about the lawyer who defended them both. Having already helped her childhood friend Truman Capote report In Cold Blood, she had a template for what she wanted to do—and being Harper Lee, she saw in this almost tabloid-tale a parable about race and criminal justice.
I wish that she’d been the one to tell you this story, but I’m honored to pick up where she left off. Furious Hours is an account of three very different American lives, and how they briefly but spectacularly intersected. One of those, of course, is Harper Lee herself, and I hope you’ll be as moved as I was to learn more about one of our most beloved yet most enigmatic authors.
Thanks so much for reading,