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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

2020 Harper Lee Prize Winner - The Hallows

I am late with this post. The 2020 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction is Victor Methos for his book, The Hallows. He was announced the winner in a press release by the University of Alabama on July 14, 2020. Congratulations Victor.

Unfortunately, the press release appears to have gotten little attention. It is not easy to even find on the net. I only discovered it a couple of days ago. I believe there were a couple of factors. 

First, the ABA Journal did not feature the shortlist and conduct a contest among its readership to help vote for the winner. In fact I cannot find online a single article in the Journal about the 2020 Prize.

Second, the prize was given most years to the winner at the Library of Congress during the National Book Festival in August. This year’s Festival is later this month online in September. Being in the fall instead of the summer and online decreases the attention for the Award. There will be an online presentation to Methos during the Festival.

I find it sad the Award is getting limited attention. I am sure it is also difficult for other book awards to gain recognition in the year of Covid 19.

The news release said Methos “is thrilled to win the award”.

He said:

“It is such a privilege to receive this award,” Methods said. “Every criminal lawyer will tell you the same thing: Atticus Fincsh was our earliest inspiration. I first read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ when I was 13, and to this day when the injustices of our legal system discourage me, it is that book I turn to for inspiritment. To think the committee saw something of it in my one work humbesl me, and I will always be grateful.”

The release states:

The committee praised “The Hallows” for being a taut legal thriller with entertaining courtroom scenes. The book tells the story of Tatum Graham, a Miami defense attorney who re-examines his life after a guilty client walks free. Graham moves back home for a simpler life, but he soon joins the county attorney’s office as a prosecutor, where he redeems himself for past wrongs.

“In this tightly focused and masterful thriller, we watch Tatum Graham come to terms with the profound personal failures associated with his professional successes,” Crank said. “His redemption comes in the form of a dogged pursuit of justice, even though it means waging war on the very people and institutions that created him. In “The Hallows”, Victor Methos channels the very best of Harper Lee’s prose.”

I have not read The Hallows but recently obtained a copy and will be reading it shortly. I am hoping that the book does not trash defence counsel for representing the guilty. Every accused person is entitled to a defence. We appear to be becoming a society that only values the defence of the innocent. As Methos, in his non-writing life, has been both a prosecutor and a defence lawyer I hope I am wrong and that “the profound personal failures” are not merely being a successful defence lawyer.

The other books on this year’s shortlist were:

1.) The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey; and,
2.) An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker.

I have already read The Satapur Moonstone and thought it an excellent book. It must have been disappointing for Massey not to win the Prize. For 2019 and 2020 she had a book on the shortlist but was not the winner.

I will also be reading An Equal Justice.

I will be providing reviews on each book on the shortlist and my opinion on which book deserved to be the winning book.


  1. Thanks, Bill, for this. I hadn't heard any news about the Harper Lee Award this year, and I was interested in the finalists. It's been very difficult for news about awards and new books to get around this year, and I think there are a lot of events that just aren't getting publicity. I hope that changes soon.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I expect more reading has been done this year but it certainly seems harder for authors to get attention.

  2. Here is where I wholeheartedly agree with you. I hope that the character in The Hallows doesn;t renounce the work that he did or the people he represented as a defense attorney.
    As a Legal Aid attorney I know has told me, everyone deserves a defense. I agree. If we didn't have that, we'd be living in the Middle Ages or in an autocracy or full-on dictatorship.

    There is so much injustice here as it is that defense attorneys and organizations such as the ACLU as needed. An AFrican-American man who has been in jail in the deep South for 28 years for allegedly stealing a garden shears came up for parole. He was denied, sent back to serve a life sentence.

    And this is true for so many unfairly incarcerated people. Or many are finally let out after years of unjust imprisonment because lawyers fought for them and didn't give up. In the U.S., we need more defense attorneys and more Innocent Projects.

    So I agree. I get a bit worried about Mickey Haller in Grisham's books because he has switched sides at times.

    So we agree here.

  3. Replies
    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comments. I have a few books to read but will get to The Hallows in the near future. I feel surprised I had not heard of Methos previously as he has written several books.