In Clanton, Mississippi two men rape a 10-year-old girl. Bad enough under any circumstances, but in this case the men are white, the girl black. It's horrible, and the town, primarily white, reacts with proper respect for the facts. Until the girl's father takes justice into his own hands with a newly acquired assault rifle.
That turns Clanton inside out, and for 10 days the city is a nightmare, caught in the glare of burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire. Through it all Jake Brigance, attorney for the defense, struggles to save his client's life -- and then his own!
"Grisham's pleasure in relating the byzantine complexities of Clanton politics is contagious...and he tells a good story." (Library Journal)