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  • Three halves don't add up to one.

    This is an oddity - three 'sort of' half books that don't add up to one complete, satisfying whole. The first 'half' is the story of the Reverend Willie Maxwell, his (alleged) multiple murders, his murder and trial. The second is the history of brash Southern lawyer Tom Radney, who defended Maxwell in life and then - with remarkable chutzpah - Maxwell's killer. Finally, we get the story of Nelle Harper Lee's attempt to write about the reverend, his (alleged) crimes and his trial. Each 'half' has potential, but none is fully realized. The story of the reverend could be a book in its own right, delving into lingering racism and the failure of the justice system for poor blacks; the career of Tom Radney could be another, exploring the political turmoil of the South from the point of view of white privilege; the life of Lee could be a third, investigating the the conundrum of a white 'saviour' (like Lee or Atticus Finch) challenging racism. But we only get three partial portraits which do their subjects justice. Also, the dramatic title is strange - we learn it relates to the battle of Horseshoe Bend, where the Native American Creek were defeated. It seems a bit of a reach to tie it up with the small scale evil of Maxwell or the professional difficulties of Harper Lee.

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