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on 8 June 2017
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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on 27 May 2018
A Time to Kill

John Grisham has been writing and publishing books for more year than he wants to remember. Drawing on his legal knowledge and experience the American legal system tends to be at the heart of most of what he writes. In addition many of his books have been made into films. A Time to Kill is special though because it is his first published work and was released in 1989.

Jake Bernice is a small-town lawyer in Clanton, Mississippi. Content to live his life quietly with his family dealing with relatively small criminal issues then all hell breaks loose. A young black girl is seriously attacked by two white men who leave her both physically and emotionally scarred for life.

Both men are gunned down whilst in the custody of the court and the girls father is witnessed carrying out the attack. Can a black man receive justice from a predominantly white community after killing two of their own? Bernice is asked to defend the father.

The trial splits the community on racial grounds but in the process allows so many others to use it as a vehicle for their own agendas. The District Attorney sees its prosecution as his road to the Governors Mansion. The Judge identifies its potential as putting him back into the mainstream of influence within the community. The black churches and other pressure groups use it as a vehicle to advance civil issues further within the Southern states. Other lawyers identify the career potential as they line up to play Monday morning quarter-back in the hope that Jake messed it up and they can take his place. Even Jake is aware of the life-changing consequences this could have for him and his family if the jury return an innocent verdict.

External forces such as the Klu Klux Klan and the NCCAP are involved. The former to ensure the rights and superiority of the white race by any means possible and the latter to promote and highlight the rights of the black community. In brief it is an issue surrounded by a morass of circumstances with Brigance right in the centre of it and unclear as to the best way to proceed.

Grisham paints a stark and at times brutal picture of the South. In addition to the direct discrimination which is everywhere he also highlights the institutional racism that is inherent within the mainstream organisations within the community. It can be frightening at times.

Excellent book.
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on 13 April 2018
I really enjoyed The Racketeer and so I was intrigued to see what Grisham's first book would be like.

The opening chapter was vivid in its brutality but this did not deter me from continuing with this book. Instead, I was eager to discover if the perpetrators would be justly punished.

I liked how intelligent Jake Brigance was in his pursuit of Carl Lee's freedom and, just like the Racketeer, there were moments in A Time to Kill where I chuckled and laughed out loud at some of the comments that were made.

There were times, particularly towards the end of the novel where I was on the edge of my seat and genuinely worried about the outcome of the trial. I really enjoyed reading the legal parts of the book and although they were predominantly towards the end of the book, I found the build up to the big day of the trial to be tense and also necessary.

I would recommend A Time to Kill to those who enjoy a good legal case that keeps you hooked until the very last page. I will definitely be reading Grisham's other books.
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on 2 June 2018
If I could give 10 stars I would. This is truly an amazing book written only in the style that the amazing John Grisham can write! I've seen the film version of this story, which was equally as moving and brilliant but the book surpasses that 100% which I didn't think possible. I am a prolific John Grisham reader and considering this was his first ever published book shows the true brilliance of the man and his obvious experience of being a lawyer and watching a young rape victim in court giving evidence that inspired him to write A Time To Kill! Absolutely brilliant!
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on 18 July 2017
My first introduction to a Grisham novel and I am now pleased that we met albeit a little late in his career.
The book aptly captured the political and social atmosphere of the time, during which deeply entrenched racism was unearthed to serve as a reminder that we have still a long way to go although progress has been made.
The characters throughout the book were expertly crafted although I felt that one specific character was abandoned in the latter part of the novel ( no spoilers ) and this disappointed me.
Despite the above; the book is a riveting " Page turner" which I found difficult to put down. All in all a great read.
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on 28 February 2018
"I'm two weeks away from bankruptcy. I'm about to lose the biggest case of my career, for which I have been paid nine hundred dollars. My beautiful home that everyone took pictures of and the old ladies from the Garden Club tried to get written up in "Southern Living" has been reduced to rubble. My wife has left me, and when she hears about the house, she'll divorce me. No question about that. So I'll lose my wife. And once my daughter learns that her damned dog died in the fire, she'll hate me forever. There's a contract on my head. I've got the Klan goons looking for me. Snipers shooting at me. There's a soldier lying up in the hospital with a bullet in his spine. My secretary's husband was killed because of me. My last employee is in the hospital with a punk haircut and a concussion because she worked for me. The jury thinks I'm a lying crook because of my expert witness. My client wants to fire me."

FANTASTIC Grisham at his best! I have read most of his books and this is by far my favourite. More detailed and elaborated than his other novels you can really see how he put much more time and effort into his first one.
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on 22 June 2018
This book is awful.
I don't normally write reviews on books, if I don't like them I just delete them off my kindle and that's that, but after finishing this book I was compelled to write a review after seeing all the five stars on Amazon.
The main problem with this book is that all the characters are awful with no redeeming features. The book centres on a rape of a 10 year old black girl by two white guys and the trial that follows. The 'hero' Jake is arrogant and chauvinistic, the thing that attracted him to his (now) wife Carla was that she was beautiful, but then he married her because her family had money and her own mother had never worked, and this lack of ambition appealed to him. Quote ' he wanted a wife who would stay home and stay beautiful and have babies and not try to wear the pants'. He then sends her away at the first sign of trouble, and hires a very young clerk whom he describes as having a 'healthy bust-line with no bra' Apart from the total lack of respect for women there is also every caricature ever. We have a couple of rednecks who are the rapists, the money grabbing defence lawyer, the disbarred alcoholic lawyer that helps with the case, the black ex Vet father of the girl who was raped, the alcoholic expert witness that hides something in his past, the best friend who is also an alcoholic divorce lawyer, the sturdy hero of a sheriff who is also black, the judge who is being blackmailed by friends of the DA, the juror who is being threatened. The characters are ridiculous. Everyone screams at each other, especially in court, not just shouts, screams. Everyone calls everyone a n***ger, Even the town is a caricature of itself with the white coffee shop and the black BBQ cafe. But the main reason I hated this book is the accused that killed the two rapists in cold blood knew he would get off before he did the murder, everyone considered him a hero and the rapists 'just done needed killing'. The jurors were getting bullied into making a decision and then finally came round to a verdict by someone telling them to think of it as a white girl being raped by two black guys instead. So that’s ok, white girl getting raped by two black guys and the dad kills them - fine, black girl getting raped by two white guys and the dad kills them - not so much. How about, no neither is right!
If you want to read a terrible, terrible book with awful characters and a bad ending read this. If you want to read a book about black v white in a court case read To Kill A Mocking Bird – beautifully written and a much better story.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 August 2015
This was the first of John Grisham's legal thrillers, centring around the trial of a black man Carl Lee Hailey for the killing of two rednecks who beat and raped his ten year old daughter, leaving her for dead. I first read this back in 2002 and have re-read it now prior to starting to read the recently published sequel Sycamore Row. The novel still holds up well, dealing with great issues of race, capital punishment, vigilantism, and whether committing a crime can compensate for an earlier crime, or whether two wrongs can never make a right. The novel does ramble occasionally and at a little over 500 pages is probably about 100 pages too long (the actual trial doesn't actually start until nearly page 400), but still reads very well and dramatically (I had forgotten the trial verdict so was feeling tense myself when reading the last few pages).
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on 8 November 2014
I like this book. I read it years ago and decided to re-read it, as I am going to read 'Sycamore Row' soon, which I believe has some link to 'A Time to Kill' (although I don't know what the link is).

I did struggle to believe that some of the things which take place in this novel could actually happen, even bearing in mind that the novel was written, and set, in the 1980s, so is maybe a little dated. Jake is not an entirely likeable character, I struggled with his attitudes toward women and his one employee (and the family dog!) in particular, and it's difficult to believe that while fighting what is maybe the highest profile case he'll ever have he seems to be constantly drinking. Thinking about his prowess as a lawyer, I'm not sure that he actually does anything for his client that any lawyer wouldn't have done.

That said, it's a great story and of course we're all gunning for Carl Lee, although in real life obviously everyone can't go around taking the law into their own hands however heinous the crime!

At times the story seemed a bit slow-moving. Things speed up in the last few chapters, which are very good.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes anything along the lines of legal thrillers or courtroom dramas, or to anyone who is interested in learning a little bit about life in the southern states of the USA during the 1980s.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2016
A ten-year-old black girl is raped and beaten up by two white men. The men are arrested, but the child's father shoots them both dead before they can be tried. Jake Brigance is the man who has the unenviable job of trying to get the avenging father acquitted. He is not helped by the all-white jury, and a strong case for the prosecution. Can he succeed against seemingly insuperable odds?

The is Grisham's first novel (hard to believe), and is a triumph. The narrative rocks along at a fast pace, and the characters are well portrayed. As the time for the trial approaches, the tension mounts, and I had difficulty in putting this book down. The ending is cleverly managed, too. Highly recommended.
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