A Time to Kill by John Grisham

A Time to Kill by John Grisham


4.03  ·  Rating details ·  613,374 Ratings  ·  4,309 Reviews
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A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Before The Firm and The Pelican Brief made him a superstar, John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice -- at last it's available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence...as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town...Clanton, Mississippi.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes matters into his hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client's life...and then his own.

“Mr. Buckley, let me explain it this way. And I'll do so very carefully and slowly so that even you will understand it. If I was the sheriff, I would not have arrested him. If I was on the grand jury, I would not have indicted him. If I was the judge, I would not try him. If I was the D.A., I would not prosecute him. If I was on the trial jury, I would vote to give him a key to the city, a plaque to hang on his wall, and I would send him home to his family. And, Mr. Buckley, if my daughter is ever raped, I hope I have the guts to do what he did.”

“With murder, the victim is gone, and not forced to deal with what happened to her. The family must deal with it, but not the victim. But rape is much worse. The victim has a lifetime of coping, trying to understand, of asking questions, and the worst part, of knowing the rapist is still alive and may someday escape or be released. Every hour of every day, the victim thinks of the rape and asks herself a thousand questions. She relives it, step by step, minute by minute, and it hurts just as bad.
Perhaps the most horrible crime of all is the violent rape of a child. A woman who is raped has a pretty good idea why it happened. Some animal was filled with hatred, anger and violence. But a child? A ten-year-old child? Suppose you're a parent. Imagine yourself trying to explain to your child why she was raped. Imagine yourself trying to explain why she cannot bear children.”





Reviews


Read when it first came out. I really ought to reread this prior to reading Sycamore Row. I remember being captivated with the story of Jake Brigance but I details are sketchy at best at this time. Seems like a summer reread is on the horizon.
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I confess that when one of my book clubs made this our monthly selection, I approached it with more than a little trepidation. I knew that this was Grisham's first book and that when it was first published as a hardcover, he could hardly give it away. Sales were so poor that there was initially no paperback release. Only after the success of The Firm and other of Grisham's books was this one finally resurrected and released in paperback.

Like most of Grisham's other readers, I jumped aboard the train with The Firm and never looked back. Though I've enjoyed most of his later books, I simply took it for granted that this first effort was probably his "practice" novel, that it was not very good, and hence the poor sales. I further assumed that his publisher, anxious to milk the Grisham brand for all it was worth, only finally published A Time to Kill in paper simply to cash in. Accordingly, I've avoided it all these years until I was finally forced to read it.

I'm very happy that I was. The book turned out to be a gripping story with better-defined characters and a much more interesting setting than many of Grisham's later books. In fact, it may be one of his best.

The tiny town of Clanton, Mississippi, is shocked when two drunk and drug-addled thugs viciously assault a ten-year-old girl, failing to kill her only because they could not find a bridge from which to throw the child. The two are quickly arrested and charged with various crimes related to the attack, when the girl's father, a decorated Vietnam vet, takes the law into his own hands and kills the men who so gruesomely violated his daughter.

The father hires a young, up-and-coming lawyer named Jake Brigance to represent him. But this is Mississippi and the case is complicated by the fact that the victim and her father are black while the two dead thugs were white. The population of the town is evenly divided between blacks and whites and, while most people irrespective of race, condemn the actions of the two thugs, they are divided, mostly along racial lines, over the issue of whether the father should be convicted of premeditated murder or be given a medal for ridding the town of the two scumbags.

Grisham plays fair with both sides, and it's clear that he knows very well the setting, the people and the dynamics of the situation. There are a number of great characters in this novel and very few of them are pure of heart. These are much more complex characters than those usually served up in books like this, and the story grabs you from the start. It also raises a lot of thought-provoking questions. It's a great read, and I'm only sorry that it took me so long to get to it.
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Continuing with my reading of all Grisham titles.
This is the first I've read of the southern trial novels. Extensive use of the N word was disturbing but it's used for an accurate portrayal of the voice of white southerners of the period, not gratuitously. Much more disturbing was the scene of the violent attack on a little girl that's the basis of the story. Again, not gratuitous. This novel was based on a true story. A thoughtful and thought provoking reminder of the cruelty and racial prejudice in our not-so-far past. Really interesting descriptions of the trial and the jury and its deliberations.
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A satisfying legal thriller.

Grisham gives the reader much to ponder in this story of a black man who kills two men who raped and brutally beat his 10 year-old daughter. It's hard not to root for the father. It also makes one wonder if the story would have worked as well had it been his wife or sister who had been raped instead (probably not), which in and of itself is worth thinking about. It certainly makes one wonder if and when murder is ever justifiable, and exactly how we draw those lines in the sand as individuals and as a society.

That said, there were times the characters felt one dimensional. Lots of stereotypes. Occasionally, the story and the characters bordered on satire. Toward the end I grew weary of the tongue-and-cheek dialogue between characters. I also felt Grisham offers a very cynical view of lawyers and the legal process, which at times adds to the story and at other times takes away from it.

Overall, an incredibly well-written story, with relevant and important themes.
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Riveting, somber and powerful, A Time to Kill is a totally unforgettable legal thriller telling of secluded prejudice in a small Southern town, and one lawyer who wants to change the world.
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My favorite Grisham, and I've read almost all of them. He states in his own words that sometimes he gets "a bit verbose" - but I really liked it because of the depth that he goes into on the characters, which is mostly absent from his other stories.
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4 stars!

Die Jury - A Time To Kill in English – was the first Grisham I have read. I’ve heard about him and his books a lot, but somehow I kept going back for other authors I already knew. But I have to say that I enjoyed this one a lot.

I won’t write anything about the plot itself – most people know it anyways, either because there are tons of good summarizing reviews out there, or because they have read or seen the movie (which isn’t nearly as good as the book) themselves. So let me just say a little about what I liked:

American law is always something a little mysterious and – let’s just say it – a little crazy for me. It is very different from what we know in Europe and I was super curious to get a little information on the American system in this book and I have to say that the parts of the book set in the courthouse were by far the ones I enjoyed the most. It was very interesting to see how the process developed and what possibilities the different parties had to act and react. The selection of the jury and its discussions afterwards was very well done.

It took a little to really get into the book – the first scene was of course heartbreaking and totally catchy, but the introduction of so many characters in such a short time made my head spin. I still kept mixing up some of them during the book. I really liked our main character Jake Brigance, he might not be the usual super hero and has some serious character issues, but that made him very credible.

I also had a few problems with the pace of the plot. I had the feeling that we had a furious start, followed by a very slow middle part which ended in a too fast ending. I guess that such things come with experience and we have to keep in mind that this is Grisham’s first novel.

Well, I will definitely keep my eyes out for other Grisham books!
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My first John Grisham novel was his latest release, The Whistler: a capable, if not entirely thrilling, read. Because I give every author two chances to 'wow' me, I decided to take a stab at Grisham's debut, A Time to Kill.

Wow. Wow wow wow. Was I impressed!

Set in northeastern Mississippi (an area I've ridden through many times, and have a certain affection for), a young black girl is kidnapped and brutally raped by two white rednecks, both career criminals despite only being in their twenties. The two are caught and arrested, but that does not make the girl's pain go away, of course — so her father takes matters into his own hands, and murders the two rapists in cold blood. Jake Brigance, a young lawyer who is desperate for the big time, takes the case despite its daunting nature. What unravels is something that thoroughly impacts the entire fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi, and the reader as well. There is no black or white here, only a world of gray; while most readers can sympathize with the girl's father, was it right of him to murder the men? What is morally justifiable? What role does the court system play in our lives, and even when juries make the 'right' decision, is it still wrong? These are questions Grisham leads the reader to, never fully answering them but instead inspiring thought and meditation. I know I certainly look at the American justice system in a new light after reading this fabulous novel.

This was a journey that had me glued to the pages, and I would have read it much faster had life not intervened. I was shocked by how fleshed out the town of Clanton and its inhabitants really are, in the pages of this weighty story; Grisham is one who can tell a tale, and had that talent from the very beginning . . . as is evident here, in his debut novel. I was not sure what I wanted the final decision to be — guilty, not guilty, mistrial — because of all the twists and turns and new revelations that come to light during this volume's 480-ish pages. That's a good thing. The person who begins reading this novel and the person who finishes this novel aren't the same, not completely; this is one with true potential to impact, all these years later. It really stands up.

John Grisham is one of America's most popular authors, and I can now see why. I cannot wait to work my way through the rest of his releases, but I don't know if any of them can top this one.
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I don't normally read books like this one, but a good friend recommended it so I decided to give it a shot. Now I am glad that I did, it make me view court room dramas in a whole different light. This is also a first time read for me with this author.

Synopsis
In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence...as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town...Clanton, Mississippi.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes matters into his hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client's life...and then his own.

I have to be honest and say I was not sure about this book at all. The more I read though, the more I was intrigued. I really enjoyed the writing style a lot. The story was very engaging and was pretty quick paced. I also found this story to be very thought provoking as was a young adult in the year that this book was written. I did not think much about how thick the racism was in the 80's. Reading this book brought that to the forefront for me. It also made me think about what I would have done if this was to happen to me, if my child had been raped, beaten and left for dead. What would I have done? How would I have reacted? This book really makes reader's think about it.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book, well most of them anyway. They were developed very well. Of course my favorite would be Jake, but I also really enjoyed Ellen even though she came into the story relatively late. I would have loved to have had her a bit sooner into the story and maybe learned a bit more about her. I could relate to the characters very well because they felt so real and down to earth most of the time. I also found them to be very likeable for the most part.

Since I was recommended this book, I must recommend it as well, even for those who do not like courtroom dramas like me. I think this book could change your mind. I look forward to experiencing more of this author in the future.
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Wow! What a powerful book, I can't believe I hadn't read it sooner. I've seen the movie a numerous amount of times because I'm a big fan of both Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L Jackson. My eyes were glued right to the pages from beginning to end, I just couldn't put it down.

I remember watching the movie for the first time when I was in my mid-teens and I remember not liking it at that time because it was hard for me to understand the court and legal system, but as I got older I watched it again and I loved it. This book is to me not just John Grisham's best book, but it is now a book I'm putting in my list of favorites. The book is very emotional and some parts were very disturbing and hard to read, and it's sad to say it's probably happened in real life. An excellent book that I recommend to everyone!
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32542.A_Time_to_Kill

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