A Critical Evaluation Of The Representation Of Crime And The Agencies That Deal With It In John Grisham’s “A Time To Kill”

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A Critical Evaluation Of The Representation Of Crime And The Agencies That Deal With It In John Grisham's "A Time To Kill"� A Time To Kill was John Grisham's first novel, and by his own admission there is "a lot of autobiography"� in it. This legal-procedural novel follows the trial of a black father, accused of murdering the two white youths who raped his ten-year-old daughter. The main protagonist is not the defendant, Carl Lee Hailey, but the young white "street lawyer"� , Jake Brigance, whom he employs to keep him from the gas chamber. The central issue of the book is the justification for murder (as the title suggests), and the construction of a defence around the insanity plea to "give the jury a way out"� of conviction. However, the novel itself is about more than just rape, murder, and the inside of a courtroom. It covers a plethora of other issues, such as unethical practices inside the legal system, racial hatred, a "˜sliding scale' of acts that range from highly criminal though to merely unethical, and the everyday struggle of those agencies and individuals that are required to deal with them.

In this essay I shall provide a critical evaluation of the fictional portrayal of some of these issues.

The primary agencies that deal with crime in this book are the individuals who comprise the courtroom and judicial system, including judges, jurors, police officers, expert witnesses and, most notably, lawyers. In this novel the "˜traditional' detective, usually either a police officer or a private detective, is replaced by a lawyer. Whilst both are portrayed as "˜questing for truth and justice', "˜traditional' detective stories centre around the apprehension of the "˜villain', whereas in a legal-procedural novel, such as A Time To Kill, the story centres around the courtroom procedures...