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New details of Harper Lee's true crime book were revealed as a briefcase mystery to solve Books



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A long-standing briefing bag containing research materials for the start of a true crime book by Harper Lee has been discovered, confirming that the author of To Kill a Mockingbird has really started a book that some believe It exists somewhere in its estate.

Writing in the Guardian Review about her new book Furious Hours, which details her hunt for manuscript, author and journalist Lee, reveals the success that took place in 2017. Cep is one of a few individuals who has read the only known episode of Lee's unpublished book, The Reverend, about the case of the Reverend William Maxwell. A preacher in Alexander City, Alabama, Maxwell was suspected of murdering two of his daughters, his brother, his nephew, a neighbor and one of his step-daughters, but he was not convicted. ever.

Cep has revealed that in 2017 she had been contacted by Maxwell's family of attorney, Tom Radney, who had assisted Lee's research on her unfinished book and remained in contact with her for decades. Radney's family said Lee's estate returned a brief bag from the end to the owner, who died in 2011. Radney had given her all her files in 1977, but Lee's estate had long denied her. keep going. In response to a request from the Radneys for his return in 2013, Lee's solicitor Tonja B Carter wrote: “Unfortunately, Miss Lee does not have your grandfather's files. I'm sorry we couldn't help. ”

The briefing bag was returned by Harper Lee's estate to the Tom Radney family in 2017, which was given access by Casey Cep.



The briefing estate returned from the Lee estate to the Tom Radney family in 2017. Photograph: Casey Cep

Cep had access to the brief bag, which had been stuffed with case records, deposits, court transcripts, letters, maps, newspaper cuttings and more. It was a scary discovery, writing in Guardian Review: “The brief bag had been in her possession until her death; it was covered with dust, but included Lee's legal files and other materials – everything from an occult bookshop catalog where he bought voodoo books to the warranty for the tape recorder he used in reporting Maxwell's case. I had spent years trying to recreate her work on the Reverend, and this was her files and photocopies, documents and research. ”

The “most significant” discovery was one page of Lee's notes, detailing her interview with Maxwell's first wife, who was exactly the same as her work on a true crime crime of her child Truman Capote in 1966. Blood In Cold Blood.

“For the first time,” Cep writes. “I had relevant evidence of their perfect hadlais with her reported in Alexander City.” T

After nearly a decade out of public view while struggling with the success of his Pulitzer-winning novel, Lee heard about Maxwell in 1977 when he was shot at the head in the funeral of his alleged victim, his court daughter, Shirley Ann Ellington. Maxwell was killed by a relative of Ellington, Robert Lewis Burns, who was later released because of madness. The following year Lee began interviewing police officers, attorneys, judges, reporters and relatives of Maxwell's victims with the intention of writing a book.

In her research, Lee Maxwell learned to make thousands of dollars from taking dozens of insurance policies on his victims. “He may not have believed in what he preached, he might not have believed in voodoo, but he had a deep and enduring belief in insurance,” he wrote.

A month after Lee's second book, Go Set and Watchman, was published in 2015, Cep in New York revealed that the Radney family had a chapter from Lee that he had sent to decades of front. Featuring four pages typed, with the title The Reverend written by Lee in the edges, the chapter sees Lee referring to Maxwell by his name and renamed Radney as “Jonathan Larkin” – a possible sign that Lee was considering going to the cause in fiction.

It has long been discussed to what extent Lee got the project. In 1987, he wrote to another author also researching the case: “I think the Reverend Maxwell has murdered at least five people, that his motive was greed, that he had reconciliation for two of the murders. and accessory for one. The person I believe to have been a friend / accessory is alive, good, and living not 150 miles away from you … I don't have enough hard facts about the actual offenses for counting up book. ”

But Radney and his family have long claimed that Lee had told her that she had written most of a book, with Radney telling a journalist in 1997: “I'm still talking to Nelle twice a year, and every time we speak, she says she is still working. ”

Although Radney's family were hopeful that the Reverend would find him after publishing That Set and Watchman, her estate had been sealed since her death in 2016. Cep believes that what will be The Reverend's existence is not published until it is unknown until it is sealed.

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