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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance, #1)
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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance #1)

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  473,918 ratings  ·  3,168 reviews
Before The Firm and The Pelican Brief made him a superstar, John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice -- at last it's available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence...as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern tow ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 15th 2004 by Dell (first published January 1st 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen
Considered Grisham's best novel by many readers far more perspicacious than moi, this well-written, emotionally-charged thriller certainly delivers. While it doesn't rank as my eye's own personal apple, I can certainly see why it is esteemed by fans of both the legal-thriller and Grisham.

Despite being fast-paced and a true page-turner (what I would call a popcorn-read), there's a gravity and social conscience that pervades the story and adds a weight to the narrative. There is depth here, more
...more
Charlotte
Continuing with my reading of all Grisham titles. This is the first I've read of the southern trial novels. Extensive use of the N word was disturbing but it's used for an accurate portrayal of the voice of white southerners of the period, not gratuitously. Much more disturbing was the scene of the violent attack on a little girl that's the basis of the story. Again, not gratuitous. This novel was based on a true story. A thoughtful and thought provoking reminder of the cruelty and racial prejud ...more
James Thane
I confess that when one of my book clubs made this our monthly selection, I approached it with more than a little trepidation. I knew that this was Grisham's first book and that when it was first published as a hardcover, he could hardly give it away. Sales were so poor that there was initially no paperback release. Only after the success of The Firm and other of Grisham's books was this one finally resurrected and released in paperback.

Like most of Grisham's other readers, I jumped aboard the t
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Jenny
Aug 30, 2007 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: J. Grisham fans
There are 104 pages of review on this book, and I read two pages worth and agreed with a dozen or so. I always wondered why cheap thrillers like this book never get discussed in great literature classes and I think I can answer that question. 1. Because there is no interpretation. Books like this are no brainers. Little thinking is required.
That's really it.
Now for the book review. First of all, Grisham needed like 1 or 2 more pages to close out. He rushed the ending.
Sure it was a great thrill
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Paul Eckert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
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Dennis
John Grisham is always a favorite go-to for fast-paced, engaging storytelling that pulls you through, chapter by chapter, page by page, clear up until you reach the end. This was a great depiction of race tensions, and the good, bad and ugly of 1980s Southern life. The author is well suited to portray the South both sympathetically while at the same time never shying away from its more shameful aspects.

Carl Lee Hailey's young daughter, who happens to be black, is brutally raped and left for dead
...more
Melanie
I've actually never read a Grisham book before. Don't everyone throw tomatoes at me at one. Maybe the reason I haven't read one before was 'cause I was afraid I would be compelled to buy the rest of his books and I'd rather save the money for purchasing my very own movie studio.
Jason P

Two nights ago I finished listening to this great piece of art. The last Grisham novel I read/listened to, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small town was fantastic in ways that can only be described as an excellent documentary that was thought provoking and influential. That book was one of Grisham's non-fictions that he tackled later on in his career, where he tracked down a fantastic story of a man who was tried and convicted of a murder he did not do. By the time I was done with i
...more
Bryce
My favorite Grisham, and I've read almost all of them. He states in his own words that sometimes he gets "a bit verbose" - but I really liked it because of the depth that he goes into on the characters, which is mostly absent from his other stories.
David
I have always had mixed feelings about Grisham, but this is one of his best. The inherent drama of a death penalty story, with a background in the crime of rape, makes this a natural for an audiobook, where the high drama can really be brought out.
Salymar
“With murder, the victim is gone, and not forced to deal with what happened to her. The family must deal with it, but not the victim. But rape is much worse. The victim has a lifetime of coping, trying to understand, of asking questions, and the worst part, of knowing the rapist is still alive and may someday escape or be released. Every hour of every day, the victim thinks of the rape and asks herself a thousand questions. She relives it, step by step, minute by minute, and it hurts just as bad ...more
Jenny
I HATED this book - why I finished all 500+ pages I will never know. I picked it up at the library just browsing for something light - I liked Pelican Brief and thought I would read another John Grisham. I think Mr. Grisham is trying to protray Clanton, Mississippi as the main character and to do this employs a lot of stereotypes about the deep south, including extensive use of the "n" word, as well as describing others in the town as "the whites" "the rednecks" etc. The main character, Jack Bri ...more
Matt
Before returning to Clanton Mississippi and Ford County, I took some time to refresh myself of my first journey here, to see where the Grisham journey had its humble roots. While it is likely this novel is not the traditional 'must-read' before diving into SYCAMORE ROW, I chose to remember the powerful novel that Grisham admits barely made a blip on the radar until after THE FIRM pushed him to the top of all the reading lists. This is a wonderful book that introduces readers to a Mississippi whe ...more
Chris
A Time To Kill by John Grisham was an enthralling tale, it appealed to me because although the book as a whole, was written to sound very serious the way the humour was mixed into the story was perfect. The triumphs and defeats all the way through Jakes court case were explained very clearly, so much so that I felt as though I was Jake, sitting stiff in front of the judge testing my witnesses and building my case. The way the drama is presented is thrilling and at many points throughout my exper ...more
Kevin Walther
A Time to Kill
By: John Grisham
Review by: Kevin Walther

A Time to Kill is written by John Grisham. It takes place in Clanton, Alabama in the spring and summer of one year in the 1970’s. This is a time where racism is still very evident in southern states, and is a major issue in the book. The story revolves around a trial in which a black man has killed the two white men who brutally raped his eleven year old daughter.
The man who kills the two men who rapped his daughter is Carl Lee Hailey; he i
...more
Rachel
A Book not worthy of a reread, and most certainly did not belong on my Contemporary Literature reading list. Unfortunately, it was assigned, and I found myself tortured to have to pick it up again and again.
Our main protagonist is Jake Brigance, a puke-bucket of a character who I found hating and hating the more I read the book. He acts out at everyone, is often rude, and is an over all narcissist - And this is supposed to be our "Hero".
John Grisham is very transparent with his characters, makin
...more
Phillip
Racism is one of the main theme is the book and it causes many problems that I feel I have a lot of outside information to know about. Tonya, a black girl was brutally murdered by a guy name Pete Willard and Billy Cobb who didn't have a legitimate reason for their actions. Carl, who is the father of Tonya remembers a case similar like this a while ago, when 4 white men raped a african american girl and got away with their crime. Carl was a man who would never let something like this go away jus ...more
T.J. Cooke
It is no coincidence that this is my first book listed on Goodreads. It wasn't the first Grisham book I read, but it is his first chronologically, and that held interest for me both as a reader and a budding author.

It's not his best work, but I still give it five stars because all the clues were there, both literally and metaphorically. You could tell that Grisham was setting about the art of crime fiction story telling and that he was prepared to do so from a standpoint, or at least an angle,
...more
Todd Russell
After finishing The King of Torts and on the heels of the sequel to A Time To Kill coming out this fall 2013, I wanted to go back and start reading through the John Grisham books in publication order. As a longtime reader, I actively seek out stories that fully immerse me. It takes a gifted storyteller to keep me riveted and fully immersed for 9,000 Kindle locations, but Grisham had me in his clutches with this story. Legal thrillers are tailor-made for fiction: you have a crime, the victims, th ...more
Max
Ah boo - how disappointing. I've not read a Grisham before and his back-catalogue really impressed with some book-to-film adaptations I've really enjoyed. This book was a real something-or-nothing though - I couldn't really like any of the characters, some being dropped by the wayside and others not explored in anywhere near the necessary depth to invoke any emotion.
The story itself was a compelling one, a 10y.o. black girl is raped by two rednecks and the father takes revenge by murdering them
...more
Debbie Maskus
John Grisham writes a thought provoking and interesting novel that captures the reader in the first page. Many of the events seemed a little strained, and this reader feels that the whole story has not been told. The story brings to mind To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus defends a black man, and of course, justice runs amok. But each story contains different criminal acts and different outcomes. Grisham develops his characters extremely well, that you can picture each individual. Of course, I r ...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is the 11th Grisham novel I’ve read but somehow this early one has escaped me up until now. But I will say after reading a substantial number of his books, early Grisham is the best Grisham. That’s not universally true but seems to hold thus far in my experience. I’m interested to see how his latest novel, (the sequel to this one) holds up to that axiom.

This, in fact, was John Grisham's first novel, and despite several rookie mistakes, it definitely kept me turning the pages. A white lawyer
...more
Graham Armstrong
I have to admit I read this book a while back. I also saw the movie a while back. But while waiting at Boston Logan airport I saw the book on the shelf and knowing I wouldn't get much sleep I decided to buy the book in the hope that I could use my time during the 6 hour flight.

Hand on heart I am not a massive crime fan, but having read the Firm, I have been a fan of John Grisham, so please bear that in mind.

The backdrop of this book, the deep south, back when the Clan was in evident, and black
...more
Ensiform
Two rednecks abduct, torture and rape a ten year old black girl in a small Mississippi town. At their arraignment, the girl’s father blows them away with an M-16. He is taken into custody, and Jake Brigance, a young white solo practitioner who has some experience with defending poor blacks, comes to his defense. So begins a nightmare for Brigance and those around him, as the town is split in two, the Klan makes violent attempts on his life, the judicial system is stacked against him, and defeat ...more
Doug Cannon
Grisham has a way of writing a real page-turner. This was one of those books that I just couldn't put down. The suspense was intense, and the story was good.

This particular story deals with some very graphic racism violence and abuse. The story then centers around the trial of the black man who killed those who abused, demeaned, and murdered his precious and innocent little daughter.

It leaves you with the question, "Is there a time to kill?"

When I finished the last page, and I finally did put it
...more
Samadrita
Of all the Grisham novels out there this one stands out as not just a high-powered courtroom drama and a battle of wits but also as a testimony to the deep-seated racism prevailing in America's south. Not that Grisham hasn't explored complex subjects apart from just the legal, but this one must have been a tough book to write given the sensitiveness of the issue it revolves around.
How an unimaginably abominable crime committed by a pair of ruthless rednecks escalates into a crisis involving not
...more
The other John
I'm tempted to think that this one is about truth, justice and the American Way gone wrong. The story is set in Mississippi and opens with the account of a ten-year-old girl, Tonya, being raped by two men. They abuse her, try to kill her but end up abandoning her to die in a ravine. She is found, taken to the hospital and, eventually, the two men are arrested. The wheels of justice begin to turn, but Tonya's father, Carl Lee, decides to take matters into his own hands and guns down the rapists a ...more
Emanuel Ramos
I re-read A Time To Kill in anticipation of Grisham's latest, Sycamore Row. I first read ATTK about twenty years ago, back when Grisham was starting to blow up with The Firm, The Pelican Brief, etc. I loved the book at the time, and considered it my favorite legal thriller.

Now, twenty years later, I have considerable issues with the story. Several plotlines that I totally forgot are just unnecessary. The ending is, I guess, cathartic, but how they got there left me scratching my head. And then t
...more
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721
"Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of
...more
More about John Grisham...
The Firm The Client The Pelican Brief The Runaway Jury The Rainmaker

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“With murder, the victim is gone, and not forced to deal with what happened to her. The family must deal with it, but not the victim. But rape is much worse. The victim has a lifetime of coping, trying to understand, of asking questions, and the worst part, of knowing the rapist is still alive and may someday escape or be released. Every hour of every day, the victim thinks of the rape and asks herself a thousand questions. She relives it, step by step, minute by minute, and it hurts just as bad.
Perhaps the most horrible crime of all is the violent rape of a child. A woman who is raped has a pretty good idea why it happened. Some animal was filled with hatred, anger and violence. But a child? A ten-year-old child? Suppose you're a parent. Imagine yourself trying to explain to your child why she was raped. Imagine yourself trying to explain why she cannot bear children.”
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“My dad's filthy rich, and even though we're Irish Catholic I'm an only child. I've got more money than you do so I'll work for free. No charge. A free law clerk for three weeks. I'll do all the research, typing, answering the phone. I'll even carry your briefcase and make the coffee.
I was afraid you'd want to be a a law partner.
No I'm a woman, and I'm in the South. I know my place.”
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