The Book

Rascal on The Run

Athens, Georgia, 1988: Attorney August “Critter” Stillwell dreams of a life on the open sea, but he’s stuck juggling a crushing caseload after the sudden departure of his father, defense attorney Guy Stillwell, a local legend with a debilitating drinking problem. When an episode of Unsolved Mysteries leads to the capture of a murder suspect who’s been on the run for 25 years, the ominous pattern of facts drags Critter into a hidden corner of Guy’s past.

In 1963, To Kill a Mockingbird was playing in local theaters, and Guy Stillwell was a lot like Atticus Finch—if Atticus had been a charming two-timer and burgeoning alcoholic. For 15-year-old Critter, working at his father’s law firm was a masterclass in the art of good ol’ boy litigating and congenial back door deals. Chauffeuring Guy’s hard-drinking partner King Hodges between the law firm, courthouse, and a local brothel, Critter got another kind of education. That summer, Guy took on the trial of the decade: defending a Black woman charged with the murder of a KKK thug. By the time it was over, Critter’s world and the sleepy town of Athens were in flames.

As an older, wiser Critter looks back on that fateful summer, he discovers stunning connections between Guy’s case and his own defense of the runaway murderer. Drawn into a web of small town secrets, family drama, long-buried lies, and the rusted tentacles of the Dixie Mafia, Critter is forced to confront his own notions of justice, freedom, love, and sobriety. Now he must choose between his duty to the law and an unwavering loyalty to his flawed but charismatic father.