A Time To Kill Book Review

A Time To Kill Book Review

Title: A Time to Kill
Author: John Grisham
Published: 1989
No. of Pages: 515
Cover Price: $7.99 US

A Time to Kill is John Grisham’s first novel; it made the New York Times #1 Bestseller list, and was later made into a movie. The story opens as two rednecks, Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard, have kidnapped a 10-year-old black girl, Tonya Hailey, repeatedly raped and beat her, then left her for dead in the middle of a road. Later that night, both are laughing and bragging about it while at their favorite bar. They are arrested, Willard signs a confession, and they are charged.

Tonya’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, is furious and devastated; he knows that because the perpetrators are white and because his daughter is black, there is a very strong possibility that Cobb and Willard will get off. He acquires an M-16 from a friend, hides out in a janitor closet, and when the prisoners are being taken back to jail from the court, he blows them away. The main plot of the book is his trial.

Although the primary outcome of the story is whether the jury finds Hailey guilty or not guilty, the story focuses on black and white interaction in the small Mississippi town of Clanton. It seems that everyone in the town is involved, as well as others from neighboring towns. Jake Brigance, Carl Lee’s lawyer, is young and fairly inexperienced; he is, however driven, and works hard (in spite of a very cunning and seasoned prosecutor) to convince the jury to give his client a verdict of not guilty, which is, in this town, an almost impossible feat.

During the course of the story, there is conflict between Brigance and a very arrogant prosecutor who is using this case to further his own political ambitions. In addition the Klu Klux Klan gets involved, murdering several people, burning crosses and homes, and kidnapping and beating some of the main characters. The black churches are also involved, and the story exposes the corruption of the leaders in many of them.

All-in-all, A Time to Kill is an excellent read. Grisham is a master story teller and his courtroom dramas are fascinating. There is much suspense throughout this book, and the reader is kept on the edge of his seat awaiting the outcome of the trial and the story in general. One thing that was disappointing was that most of the really bad guys were never caught or prosecuted. It would have been nice to see justice for those who were victims. This is, however, not a book to miss, and even though it has been out for many years, it’s well-worth reading, if not only to understand the racism that existed in the small towns in the South when the book was written; unfortunately some still exists. Readers will not be disappointed and will be mesmerized from beginning to end.

This book was purchased with personal funds and no promotion of the book was solicited by the author or publisher.

This book may be purchased at Amazon: A Time to Kill: A Novel

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