Charles Alexander, a young man groomed from birth by his mother to be a Baptist minister, accidentally witnesses the murders. The killer is Hope Kirby, World War II hero, member of a large mountain clan of farmers, who has discovered his wife's infidelity. Although Kirby's code of honor requires that he exact vengeance, it won't allow him to kill an innocent bystander, so Charles goes free, promising not to tell what he's seen. But Charles does tell, and we watch, fascinated, as a trial, an appeal, and a new terror unleashed on the countryside draw the entire county into the action. An Affair of Honor is the story of a crime - a crime with so many unforeseeable repercussions and nuances that it will take five decades to untangle. It is the story of a society's transformation at mid-century, the transformation on every level - spiritual, sexual, racial and political. For the scope of the narrative and the power of the prose, this great novel may be compared with Faulkner and Dostoevsky.
Richard Marius was born and grew up on a farm in East Tennessee. He headed the Expository Writing Program at Harvard from 1978 to 1998. An Affair of Honor is the third of a loose trilogy set in fictional Bourbon County, Tennessee, the first two volumes being The Coming of Rain and After the War. He is also the author of a fourth novel, Bound for the Promised Land; two major biographies, Thomas More and Martin Luther; and a style book, The Writer's Companion. He died in 1999.