A Time to Kill

John Grisham’s debut novel, A Time to Kill, grips the reader from the outset with its depiction of the brutal and despicable beating and violation of a young girl. Such is the extreme nature of the incident that it raises the ire and indignation of anyone with a conscience or shred of humanity within them. Grisham then continues on with his narrative – adding interesting characters and plot twists aplenty, but deftly managing to never get on a soapbox to tell the reader just what is right and wrong. Grisham does raise some sticky issues involving race, prejudice, justice, and the potential morality of murder, but what makes this debut so clever is that he never provides any real answers, he just asks the pertinent and provocative questions. Beyond those larger elements, the small town world that Grisham captures feels authentic and lived in, his characters as real as my next door neighbor.

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