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Ray Atlee is a
professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's forty-three, newly
single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a
younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family's black
And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in
the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge
Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and
politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn
to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.
With the end in sight,
Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to
discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on
his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and
Forrest to appear in his study.
Ray reluctantly heads south, to his
hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid.
But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and
in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.
perhaps someone else.