Wednesday, October 10, 2012

“A Time to Kill” by John Grisham - The Death of Innocence

A Time to Kill by John Grisham (Book cover)
The South of the United States of America hasn't always been known as being inhabited with people open to cultural diversity (and that's a big understatement).

Even today, in some places, especially smaller, rural towns, racial tensions are still alive and boiling... and John Grisham guessed it would be the perfect setting for a tense courtroom drama centered around a little girl and what her father did for revenge.

On a night like any other, a black girl in the town of Clanton, Mississippi was victimized by the heinous acts of two young, drunk and reckless men. They performed unspeakable acts on her, to the point where the entire town talks only about what happened. Naturally, the girl's black father takes it worse than anyone and decides that the only thing left to do is to take the law into his own hands.

And he does that by getting an M-16 rile from a hoodlum he had saved in Chicago, after which he guns down his daughter's assailants, right on the steps of the courthouse, dramatic as ever.

However, the father is far from being alone in this battle; Jake Brigance, a young attorney, is doing everything in his power to save his client not only from being persecuted by the law, but also by the close-minded inhabitants of Clanton.

While I'm not a terribly big fan of courtroom dramas (12 Angry Men and Primal Fear being the only ones I saw or read), this one really stuck with me. One of the reasons why is the amount of work put in making the whole event come to life.

While John Grisham was meticulous with his descriptions, it wasn't like what most authors are trying to do; he didn't dwell too much on the unimportant elements and it felt like every description brought something to the story, whether it was vivid imagery or another layer of meaning.

Also, it shows that the novel has been polished beyond human expectations; each word, action and reaction has been carefully crafted to be a natural part of the fascinating world Grisham has built in the story.

A Time to Kill by John Grisham (Book cover)
As for the story itself, it is quite captivating, and I found myself struggling not to read the ending more than once (I'm usually very patient), so make of that what you will.

All in all, A Time to Kill may be Grisham's best piece of literature (in my opinion, at least), and any fan of his or courtroom dramas should take the time to check him out.

John Grisham (Author)

John Grisham

Personal site

John Grisham is an American lawyer, politician and author whose works have always been largely centered around the legal world.

Many of his novels have been adapted into films, including The Firm, The Rainmaker and A Time to Kill. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

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