Other Sellers on Amazon
A Time to Kill: A Jake Brigance Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 23, 2009
|New from||Used from|
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
“Grisham excels!"—Dallas Times Herald
“Grisham is an absolute master.”—Washington Post
“Grisham enraptures us.”—Houston Chronicle
About the Author
- Publisher : Dell (June 23, 2009)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 672 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0440245915
- ISBN-13 : 978-0440245919
- Lexile measure : 770L
- Item Weight : 13 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.18 x 1.62 x 7.52 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Set in the south and fixed on the question of racism and justice, the book barrels along with a lurid plot that would seem improbable, were it not for the parallels to current events. The characters are recognizable to anyone who's watched any number of crime dramas on TV, but nevertheless keep you engaged. Grisham's new foreword makes it clear he has a keen fondness for the book and that his own personal experiences fuel the narrative.
I like it. Great summer read, and there's enough complexity to the central characters to make you realize how this was the start of a big career.
I remembered this book as powerful, difficult, emotional, and shocking even at the time in its unflinching description of racism and racist violence in the Deep South.
Decades later, I feel a little bit differently about this book. It opens, as Grisham’s books often do, with a brutally violent event, in this case the rape of a ten-year-old Black girl. Events unfold from there and we confront many questions about justice (and taking justice into one’s own hands), family, a corrupted (yet not always) legal system; we see the unutterable segregation and blatant racism that was still endemic in the South in the eighties; and we see the first blush of Grisham’s skill in legal procedurals - case research, jury selection, the trial itself - all the things that play into his later full-on legal thrillers.
This is, after all, Grisham’s first novel, so there are places where the plot stalls, some awkward language (still amazing for a first novel written between legal briefs), strange omissions of what would seem to be important scenes, and so forth. In addition Brigance is a complex protagonist. He’s in no way a pure hero. He’s not free of bias himself and certainly not free of racism and very overt sexism. He’s arrogant and a publicity seeker. He has almost no use for women beyond his wife, especially if unattractive or over the age of forty. You may not like him - I’m not sure I do.
That said, the story is still gripping and it’s a strong read. My final caveat is that this book is more than thirty years old. Its casual racial stereotyping and in particular the constant use of a word I won’t dignify with shorthand is very, very hard to take in 2021 (the later Brigance books avoid this, the second mostly and the third almost completely - but they are current era). I do recommend the book, especially if you want to read the later Brigance novels as this is his defining moment - but probably a good idea to try the sample and see how you feel.
I would NOT recommend the book to be read by anyone. It is that bad. Shame on Amazon to continue to sell it. Sorry, but I needed to express my opposition to this book.
Top reviews from other countries
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.
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?
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.
The novel was written in the late 1980’s a different time, and it really is – more on that later. Racism is the norm, and it is blatant. Can the killer, a black man, receive a fair trial in the deep south in a predominantly white town? We follow Brigance and a couple of friends/colleagues as he works his way through the trial. He must deal with an arrogant prosecutor, a tough set of facts, and the Ku Klux Klan to mention just a few of the challenges. The case could get Brigance killed.
The story is excellent. There is plenty of detail and suspense. Some of the writing is brutal – the description of the rape particularly. My one criticism is the use of the n-word. I am not normally ‘squeamish’ and can usually read books in the context of the time they were written (a case in point being Ian Fleming’s original Bond books which are littered with casual racism and misogyny or Wilbur Smith’s books with the racism and slaughter of wildlife). However, I have to say in this case I found it troubling. There are hundreds of uses of the word (I have not counted, but I doubt this is an exaggeration), and whilst I understand it may have been common at the time, I struggled with it. I don’t recall how I felt about it when I first read it in paperback – perhaps it is a sign of the times. Either way, I thought it was worth mentioning – the story is excellent. I got through the book and enjoyed the story – however I suspect some might not.