Literary Precedents for A Time to Kill

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The plot skeleton of A Time to Kill recalls that of the legal classic Anatomy of a Murder (1958) by Robert Traver.

Both novels concern cases of revenge killings that follow sexual assaults: In Traver's book, a military officer avenges an offense against his wife. In both cases the legal strategy is the same — argue not guilty by reason of insanity.

The lawyers in both novels take the cases as a means to further their careers. And each lawyer gets valuable help from an often besotted older attorney. The machinations of the trials comprise the heart of both books. Yet Grisham approaches his material with much more ambition; Grisham's book is a deeply-thought-out social tapestry.

For Grisham, the northern Mississippi setting is integral; for Traver the locale of the upper peninsula of Michigan is quaint.

Grisham's works are the most popular examples of the groundswell of fiction about...

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This section contains 551 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Time to Kill Study Guide
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