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A time to kill [Unknown Binding]

John Grisham
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)

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  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B00005WYLH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,516,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 17 Jun 2004
By A Customer
I read this book on my brother's recomendation after finshing Grisham's other classic 'The Last Juror', and I was sure that nothing could top it. Man, was I wrong! Grisham's first novel is certainly his finest and he tells the story of a black man without a hope in front of an all-white jury seeking justice with the eloquent, flowing style of an accomplished writer, despite it being his first. Anyone who likes a good story that keeps you hooked to the end won't be disappointed - I couldn't put it down. A tremendous read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye for an eye... 21 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Tonight around 1 a.m., Grisham's new book Sycamore Row will appear on my Kindle as if by magic. In it, he revisits the people of Ford County who appeared in his first book, 'A Time to Kill', all of 24 years ago in 1989. I couldn't remember if I'd read it, and even if I had, the plot had faded completely from my mind, so a refresher seemed in order. As it turns out, I haven't read it before, though I've certainly seen the film.

The story begins with the horrific gang-rape and beating of a young black girl by two white men. The two men are quickly arrested and there is no doubt about their guilt. However, Carl Lee Hailey, the father of young Tonya, is not ready to let justice take its course and sets out to take his own revenge. When he is in turn arrested and charged with murder, he asks Jake Brigance to defend him. While there's a lot of sympathy for Carl Lee, especially amongst the black townsfolk, there is also a sizeable slice of opinion that vigilantism, whatever the provocation, is wrong; and then there's the minority of white racists who think Carl Lee should be lynched. Soon the town is plunged into fear as the Ku Klux Klan take the opportunity to resurrect the days of burning crosses and worse.

Grisham doesn't give any easy answers and doesn't paint anyone as a complete hero (and only the rapists and the KKK are seen as wholly villainous). There's a huge cast of characters and we get to know their flaws as much as their strengths; and it's an indication of Grisham's skill that we can still like so many of them even when we are bound to disagree with most of them at least some of the time, whatever our own views.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but the film is better 25 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After watching the film version of "A Time to Kill" for about the thirteenth time on TV I decided I decided to turn to the book to see how Grisham tells the story. I was expecting a more or less one-to-one correspondence between the two, but was surprised to find a number of differences, most of which to redound to the advantage of the film. This is an entertaining read and I recommend it to Grisham fans, but I can just picture Grisham watching the film version and thinking to himself "why didn't I think of that?" on so many occasions. This is especially true toward the end where the film finishes with a dramatic climax brought about by the skill and dedication of the story's protagonist lawyer, whereas in the book we simply seem to stumble from coincidence to coincidence, with the main resolution brought about by a completely incidental character who is only introduced a few pages before the end of the book. In many film adaptations the writers, pressured for concision, omit relevant and illuminating parts of the book, often at the expense of depth. With "A Time to Kill" this is entirely reversed. Grisham has a tendency to include too much detail, not so much in his descriptions, but in the minutiae of the legal process, so much so that I often felt the plot losing its bite as the same scenes were repeated a few too many times (eg Jake visiting Lucien and getting drunk, or everyone getting drunk at Jake's office). By virtue of its brevity, the film condenses these revealing yet ultimately redundant scences and keeps a much tighter pace. I admit that I read this book with the bias of knowing the film very well, but since there is a 2 hour, more polished, more gripping, more refined and more witty film version of the very interesting premise of this book I find it hard to rate it very highly.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make time to read A Time To Kill 14 Jun 2003
A Time To Kill, John Grisham's first novel, is a remarkably compelling, bold, fearless, lofty achievement for a new writer. While the book was picked up and published in small numbers at first, it was not until The Firm placed Grisham squarely on the map that this earlier effort was republished and made available for the masses of his new fans. What impresses me most about A Time To Kill is the way in which Grisham grabs your attention and sucks you right into the story immediately every time you pick it up; my interest and fascination was retained throughout the whole 500+ pages. I'm generally not a fan of lawyer or police novels, but the criminal events forming the crux of this novel are visceral right from the start, as little 10-year old Tonya Hailey, a black girl, is brutally raped and assaulted by two cruel white men. Grisham doesn't wait around to throw his best stuff directly at the reader. The two men are arrested and put on trial, but Carl Lee Hailey, Tonya's father, gets hold of an M-16 and blows both guys away (along with a deputy's lower leg) in the very halls of the courthouse. Jake Brigance, our protagonist, is determined to get his new client acquitted, a very tough task when everyone knows how the man planned and carried out the murders in cold blood. Naturally, some folks think Carl Lee should be declared a hero for what he did, while others argue that vigilante justice cannot be permitted. Since a black man killed two white men for raping his black daughter, race quickly becomes the big tent under which a legal and social circus is performed in the small town of Clanton, Mississippi. The black churches organize to support Carl Lee, calling in the NAACP and urging blacks from all over that part of the state to come to the courthouse demanding Carl Lee's release. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars [perfect !!!
I got it yesterday in the post was so happy with it I got sycamore row which is the sequel and I didn't know so i ordered this and came a day later thanks so much John Grisham is... Read more
Published 4 days ago by junaid
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a good holiday type read
This is a good holiday type read. Nothing special but the plot is well paced and well pitched. It gets a little hard to accept near the end and there are certain threads which... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Tullow Man
5.0 out of 5 stars what a book !
I think I read The Firm a long time ago and I can't remember exactly the story. I was looking for a new book and i found this one. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Figaro2007
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Was advertised as a hard back, was a paperback, not impressed
Published 9 days ago by sylvimax
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A superb read
Published 17 days ago by Robert Peacock
5.0 out of 5 stars A Time To Kill
A fantastic read , compelling, addictive and well written. Plenty of detail, humour and the serious side of things too. Read more
Published 17 days ago by bobafc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very good story line, keeps you listening
Published 25 days ago by Anj
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great read. Really enjoyed it. Fascinating too. A bloody good yarn!
Published 26 days ago by Wilki
5.0 out of 5 stars read one of his when given to me and then read this book straight...
Never really thought about reading a John Grisham book before, read one of his when given to me and then read this book straight after - brilliant! I am hooked!
Published 27 days ago by K. Harland
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best
In the era that this novel was set, it is brilliant, very thought provoking, a must read
Published 27 days ago by david inge
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