It was his debut novel, and it may still be his best one, even after such a prolific writing career. The brutality of the initial crime greets the reader on the very first page. A redneck racist attack on a little, defenceless black girl. Her father intent on revenge, and the subsequent efforts of the legal system to stumble towards a resolution.
For many years, I've enjoyed John Grisham's books. His thrillers are truly thrilling. They grab you and pull you into the story as you hurtle to the closing page. This was the first time I'd re-read A Time To Kill, mainly because Grisham's latest offering (Sycamore Row) was marketed as his debut's sequel and so I wanted to revisit the story to have it fresh in my mind. I wasn't disappointed, and neither will you.
In the Deep South of America, in the heartlands of Mississippi (and yes, I did the wee rhyme to make sure I spelt it correctly!), passions run deep, with racial tension not far below the skin. The desire for justice, the thirst for revenge, and the careful consideration of the law are all evoked in this masterful story. Along the way there are perfect pen portraits of plenty of characters, from Jake Brigance, the young lawyer fighting for justice against the big law firms; the black preachers with their Pentecostalism and their penchance for greed; the portrayal of small town America, with a variety of businesses and the inevitable gossip that circulates the town square.
While some may be upset by the sensitive nature of the crime, anyone who likes a good story will really enjoy this one. The action is non-stop, with cliffhangers aplenty. A Time To Kill may now be an oldie, but it's still a goodie. It's available from Amazonand for the Kindle.