What Happened to Harper Lee’s Murder Mystery?

Hints that there might be more books by Harper Lee in the safe deposit box that contained Go Set a Watchman were laid to rest last week by a story in the Wall Street Journal,

Still, stories about other books continue to roil around.

Today, the AP revives questions about what happened to Harper Lee’s  true crime novel, raised earlier this year in the New Yorker.  Rumored to be in the vein of In Cold Blood, it is based on a twisted and deeply Southern Gothic case of a preacher suspected of a string of killings of family members.

The family of the lawyer involved in the case has evidence that Lee had started work on the book, “four typed pages [that begin] with an early morning phone call from the accused black preacher to his white lawyer … Hand-scrawled at the top is the title The Reverend. The text is dotted with handwritten b’s, filling in where a typewriter key apparently stuck … consistent with the typewriter Lee used at the time.”

One of the few people close to Lee also tells the AP that one of Lee’s sisters told him that the book was completed.

Yet, as is the case with most of Lee’s literary history, stories are contradictory. One of the people Lee interviewed for the novel tells the AP she had second thoughts, telling him after months of work that “she didn’t know if she was going to write the book or not.”

Typically, Lee’s lawyer, who controls all access to Lee and her papers, did not respond to the AP’s requests for clarity.

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