Author(s): Casey Cep
Reverend Willie Maxwell, a charismatic, authoritative black preacher, is suspected of murder. His past two wives, brother, nephew and stepdaughter have all died in suspicious circumstances. There are whispers of secret voodoo practices, and suspicion of life insurance fraud.
Despite the mounting evidence against him, Tom Radney, a young white lawyer, miraculously protects him from legal trouble.
And then the Reverend is shot dead in front of 300 witnesses at his step-daughter's funeral.
As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it's not long until news of the case reaches Alabama's - and America's - most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend's killer face trial - where none other than Tom Radney is defending him. Captivated by true crime, having worked closely with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood and having studied criminal law, Lee became obsessed with this twisted case and the small Southern town consumed by it. She planned to write a book on the Maxwell murders. She never did.
This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. T his is the story of why she couldn't.