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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance #1)

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4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  590,197 Ratings  ·  4,061 Reviews
Don’t miss a sneak peek of Sycamore Row, John Grisham’s new novel inspired by A Time to Kill, in the back of the book.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and ta
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Paperback, 20th anniversary edition, 655 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Dell (first published 1989)
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Juan Ponce In fact, it was written back in 1989. This was John Grishams first novel! No one ever believed this was going to become such a great and successful…moreIn fact, it was written back in 1989. This was John Grisham´s first novel! No one ever believed this was going to become such a great and successful novel. It was rejected by a lot of publishers, until Grisham got one opportunity and he blasted, with this jewel! It captivated me, and now I am excited to be able to read it again! Great impact, great story, incomparable book! (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Juan Ponce I have read it once already. Some time later, I borrowed it o a friend who unfortunately left it in the public bus and my book got lost. Now, last…moreI have read it once already. Some time later, I borrowed it o a friend who unfortunately left it in the public bus and my book got lost. Now, last weekend I found and purchased a used version for only $3.00, therefore, I am happy to be able to read this incredible novel again! You won´t regret it, this is a 10-star book! This a must-read novel! (Thumbs down to spoilers! Buuuuuu!)(less)

Community Reviews

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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
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Rohisa
Sep 12, 2016 Rohisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay here's the thing.

Whenever I read something that makes me turn the pages, but where I'm constantly griping about the writing style, I can't quite bring myself to call it "good". A Time To Kill was another example. As is anything written by John Grisham or Dan Brown. When people display no care or love of the language they use, they piss me off. They do it moreso when they employ cheap tactics and tricks to keep me turning pages. Yes, I bought it. Yes, he got me. Yes, I think he accomplished
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Councillor
"A Time to Kill" is a riveting story of retribution and justice ... so does the title imply. Replace riveting by frustrating and you know what I felt while reading this doorstopper of a book.

On more than 500 pages, John Grisham delves deep into the schemes and entanglements of a trial in the Southern USA. The premise was so interesting that it was impossible not to pick this book up: A ten-year-old girl is raped by two drunken men, and her father takes the law into his own hands by killing the r
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Brina
Mar 29, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read when it first came out. I really ought to reread this prior to reading Sycamore Row. I remember being captivated with the story of Jake Brigance but I details are sketchy at best at this time. Seems like a summer reread is on the horizon.
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-thrillers
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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Charlotte
Feb 29, 2008 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shaun
May 23, 2016 Shaun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
A satisfying legal thriller.

Grisham gives the reader much to ponder in this story of a black man who kills two men who raped and brutally beat his 10 year-old daughter. It's hard not to root for the father. It also makes one wonder if the story would have worked as well had it been his wife or sister who had been raped instead (probably not), which in and of itself is worth thinking about. It certainly makes one wonder if and when murder is ever justifiable, and exactly how we draw those lines i
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
One of my least favorite Grisham's books, and that's saying something. Actually I kind of liked The Pelican Brief and one or two of his others, but mostly they strike me as mediocre writing combined, more often than not, with pulpit-pounding and breast-beating about some legal issue.

In this case the setting is a murder trial for a African-American man who gunned down his 10 year old daughter's rapists, who are stereotypical Southern white trash racists who tried to murder this little girl and l
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Jenny
Aug 22, 2007 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bryce
Feb 02, 2009 Bryce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
A Girl Has No Name
4 stars!

Die Jury - A Time To Kill in English – was the first Grisham I have read. I’ve heard about him and his books a lot, but somehow I kept going back for other authors I already knew. But I have to say that I enjoyed this one a lot.

I won’t write anything about the plot itself – most people know it anyways, either because there are tons of good summarizing reviews out there, or because they have read or seen the movie (which isn’t nearly as good as the book) themselves. So let me just say a
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Jennifer
Mar 13, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Corey
Jan 25, 2014 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a powerful book, I can't believe I hadn't read it sooner. I've seen the movie a numerous amount of times because I'm a big fan of both Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L Jackson. My eyes were glued right to the pages from beginning to end, I just couldn't put it down.

I remember watching the movie for the first time when I was in my mid-teens and I remember not liking it at that time because it was hard for me to understand the court and legal system, but as I got older I watched it agai
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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.
Matt
Mar 26, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Dennis
Oct 04, 2011 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-lit
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
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Chris
May 10, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenny
Apr 12, 2010 Jenny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Nov 19, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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Jason P
Nov 23, 2013 Jason P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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Salymar
Jun 04, 2012 Salymar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Maya B
after watching the movie like a thousand times, I finally got around to reading this one. very fast paced and one of my favorite books this year
Max
May 11, 2011 Max rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Bridgit Barger
Jul 31, 2015 Bridgit Barger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*4.5 out of 5 stars*

I am so glad I finally picked this novel up. "A Time to Kill" really delves into the racism that's immersed into Southern culture and shows how disgusting and heartbreaking it is.

Growing up in the South myself, I have noticed that things like racism, homophobia, and misogyny are deeply embedded into our culture. People use their religious beliefs to justify being absolutely disgusting to others (i.e. using gay slurs simply because your religion states that homosexuality is a
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Mariana
O tema que tem por base este livro é muito forte.
A única coisa que me fez continuar a ler foi querer saber se o pai da menina seria considerado culpado ou não. De resto achei o livro um pouco parado, à exceção de algumas partes em que havia uma certa violência.
Todd Russell
Jul 03, 2013 Todd Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jackie B. Forman
In John Grisham's first novel, life becomes complicated in Clanton, Mississippi when a black Vietnam veteran kills the two white men who raped and maimed his 10-year-old daughter when they are leaving the courthouse after their preliminary hearing. Enter young, passionate, honest local street lawyer, Jake Brigance. He takes the case to defend Carl Lee Hailey even though he thinks he cannot win. Why? Because this is the biggest case he can imagine and it will change his career forever. Little doe ...more
Rachel
Feb 17, 2010 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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"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
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More about John Grisham...

Other Books in the Series

Jake Brigance (2 books)
  • Sycamore Row

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“Mr. Buckley, let me explain it this way. And I'll do so very carefully and slowly so that even you will understand it. If I was the sheriff, I would not have arrested him. If I was on the grand jury, I would not have indicted him. If I was the judge, I would not try him. If I was the D.A., I would not prosecute him. If I was on the trial jury, I would vote to give him a key to the city, a plaque to hang on his wall, and I would send him home to his family. And, Mr. Buckley, if my daughter is ever raped, I hope I have the guts to do what he did.” 29 likes
“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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