Still in the old-books-I-borrowed-from-my-cousin-but-I-don't-think-he-would-ever-ask-them-back-so-they're-as-good-as-mine series, I read this one right after Grisham's The Pelican Brief. Funnily enough, after finding that The Pelican Brief's final chapters are not so exciting as the beginning ones, A Time to Kill was rather the opposite for me: it gets too long to get to the fun parts.
The story takes place a small town in Mississippi where young white lawyer Jake Brigance tries to save his black client, Carl Lee Hailey, from getting the death sentence after killing the men who raped her 10-year-old daughter. It took me more than two weeks to finish the book, and although my job and lack of will to do anything but eat and sleep had a lot to do with it, another reason is that I feel the book was not such a page-turner as it is being advertised as. I've always been interested in courtroom drama and the ingenious debate going on in it, but in this book we had to go through all the process of actually getting to court, which makes me wonder when the actual trial will actually begin--well, it did somewhere in chapter 35.
But now, moving on to the good points. The book speaks a lot about racism--which I think is still relevant nowadays not only in the US but in my own country as well--and how some people can be so narrow-minded and discriminative. When Carl Lee killed the rapists he's considered dangerous, but if a white man kills black rapists it would be seen as a natural thing to do.
It also shows that both blacks and whites have good guys and bad guys, and that even the good guys have bad sides too. We have Jake, who can sympathize with and defend a black person, but on the other hand he loves the attention he gets from the press and tries to keep the case because he knows what it can do to his reputation. We have Ozzie the good but tough black sheriff, but we also have the black reverend who took some of the donation money meant to help Carl Lee's family.
I also must say that at first I was not impressed with the decision to add a new female character, Ellen Roark, who helps Jake prepare for the trial. I thought that the sudden presence of this young, attractive, bra-less law student at the last fourth-half of the story only functions as a distraction for Jake, whose wife and child had left the town for safety. But then she got kidnapped by the KKK and I was seriously worried, thinking oh my God, don't tell me they're gonna rape her too. They didn't, though. Whew. Nice one there, Grisham.
Overall I give this book an 'ok' verdict of 2 stars because it has its merits but can also be rather tedious.
I still have The Client to read... but maybe I'll grab something non-Grisham next for a change.