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Authors: Michael Malone

Time's Witness

BOOK: Time's Witness
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“Malone is an eloquent, witty writer who combines page-turning suspense with the subtlety and deeply felt emotion of the Southern literary tradition at its finest. As entertaining as
, as resonant as
To Kill a Mockingbird



“Marvelously engaging…splendid…hilarious…Five hundred pages of Cuddy Mangum merely whets the appetite for more.”

—Kirkus Reviews


“One of the most entertaining portraitists of the new South…another winning chronicle…His hero [is] as engaging a tour guide through this peripatetic narrative as anyone could wish.”

—Publishers Weekly


“Mr. Malone peoples his fiction with large, quirky casts, and his readers come to know not only what these characters eat, drink, chew, whistle, sing, listen to, read and dream, but—most important, most especially in
Time's Witness
—what they believe…He should be congratulated…and thanked once again for his generosity.”

—New York Times Book Review


“Malone knows his Piedmont the way William Faulkner knew his Yoknapatawpha, but he's much more fun to read.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer


“Malone is at the peak of his powers with
Time's Witness
…A very, very funny book, in the same way that
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn
—also about race relations and class consciousness—is
a very funny book.”

—Atlanta Journal-Constitution


“Sculpture in the round…a richly textured novel…It replays the themes of
To Kill a Mockingbird
All the King's Men
, but it also exhibits a goodly amount of humor, both the wisecracking and the sharply ironic variety…Transcends the mystery genre to conjure up a vivid sense of time, of place, of history, and of hope.”

—Chicago Sun-Times


“To be relished for its flavor, variety, and essential validity. Like Charles Dickens—the comparison isn’t farfetched—the author isn’t afraid of stretching the truth to encompass it.”

—San Francisco Chronicle


“Dickensian craft…gripping…vivid…A novel of grand themes, a kind of morality play seldom thought in current literature. Its words resonate and its values linger.”

—Greensboro News and Record


“A rare sort of contemporary novel. It is blessed with a strongly focused moral vision…and brims with lively, memorably etched characters. It is the work of an author at the top of his story-telling powers, and I recommend it highly. Suspense, excitement, bulls-eye dialogue and a knockout courtroom scene…Run, don’t walk to the bookstore.”

—The State, Columbia, South Carolina


“Michael Malone has done it again: written a huge, entertaining, satisfying Southern novel that…never relaxes its friendly grip on the reader…favoring the fundamental enduring tools of the fictional trade—plot and scene, character and dialogue, all handled with a crisp, clever touch.”

—The Spectator, Raleigh, North Carolina


“Sweeping…one of the most gripping reads of the year. Courtroom scenes to rival the high drama of
Presumed Innocent
, a cast of truly memorable characters, and a plot that consistently surprises and entertains.”

—Book of the Month Club News


“A consummate writer…classic…Malone's skill with words, his ear for spoken language, his ability to create realistic, sympathetic characters…combine to make
Time's Witness
the kind of book more best-sellers should be: literate, compassionate, memorable, riveting.”

—Arizona Daily Star


“A rich and engrossing story…I find myself reading voraciously, eager to find out what happens, yet wanting to hold back, reluctant to reach the end and call a halt to the enjoyment…Rich in story, in action and in insights…the South rings true.”

—Winston Salem Journal


“A wonderful tale with a tense, unexpected finale… fascinating…Malone's Hillston could be a microcosm for the New South…provides an intriguing backdrop for an exciting legal drama.”

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Time's Witness
is a work that defies classification. Although it is a solidly constructed mystery thriller, it is also a love story, a riveting courtroom drama, a parable about prejudice and a powerful rejection of the death penalty…Stocked with myriad colorful and memorable characters… a skillfully crafted tale that…leaves the reader clamoring for more of Malone's novels.”

—Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel


“Perhaps the best novelist of the New South…and one of the most distinctive talents to emerge in crime fiction.”

—The Guardian


Time's Witness
, Malone pushes well beyond crime genre conventions, balancing Cuddy Mangum's droll narration and a comical cast of small town characters against a story whose weighty themes are capital punishment and bigotry in the modern South. A tricky combination perfectly executed, with a jackknife plot to boot.”


time's witness

by Michael Malone


Painting the Roses Red

The Delectable Mountains

Dingley Falls

Uncivil Seasons

Handling Sin

Time's Witness


First Lady

Red Clay, Blue Cadillac




Heroes of Eros


Copyright © 2002 by Michael Malone

Cover copyright © 2002 by Sourcebooks

Cover design by Chip Kidd

Cover image by Martin Parr/Magnum Photos, Inc. (man in hat)

Cover image by Jack Kurtz (electric chair)


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.


The characters and events portrayed in
Time's Witness
are fictitious. The setting is the state of North Carolina, and certain public institutions and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved in them are entirely imaginary. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author. Specific settings are also fictional: “Dollard Prison” is in no way a portrait of any actual prison. Nor have I attempted to follow with absolute legal accuracy the current courtroom and criminal policies of any given region. For example, in North Carolina, prisoners are now executed by lethal injection, whereas in this novel, the state still uses the gas chamber.


Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410 (630) 961-3900

FAX: (630) 961-2168


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Malone, Michael.

Time's witness / by Michael Malone.

p. cm.

ISBN 1-57071-754-0 (alk. paper)

1. African Americans—Crimes against—Fiction. 2. Police—North
Carolina—Fiction. 3. North Carolina—Fiction. 4. Race relations—Fiction.
I. Title.


PS3563.A43244 T56 2002





Printed and bound in the United States of America

LB 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2









In memory of my mother,
Faylene Jones Malone,
a Southern schoolteacher who taught that justice
is everyone's right and everyone's responsibility.





Part One A Common Recreation

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12


Part Two A Kind of Puritan

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26


Part Three The Wind and the Rain

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31




About the Author


For their kind willingness to answer my questions about criminal jurisprudence, my gratitude to Carl Fox, District Attorney of Orange County, North Carolina, to lawyers Dan Reed and Maria Mangano, and to Professor Daniel Pollitt at the Law School of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. For their help in gathering information, special thanks to Virginia Hill and to Sheila Waller, who also patiently drove me from police station to courthouse throughout the Piedmont. Patricia Conners, trial counsel in Boston, Massachusetts, was good enough to cast a trained eye over
Time's Witness;
I appreciate her generous willingness to read the manuscript. Material provided by Klanwatch at the Southern Poverty Law Center was invaluable, as was the knowledgeable work done on death row prisoners by Kathryn Watterson, author of
Women in Prison
Not by the Sword


time's witness


Of charity, what kin are you to me?

Twelfth Night


I don’t know about Will Rogers, but I grew up deciding the world was nothing but a sad, dangerous junk pile heaped with shabby geegaws, the bullies who peddled them, and the broken-up human beings who worked the line. Some good people came along and they softened my opinion. So I’m open to any evidence they can show me that God's not asleep at the wheel, barreling blind down the highway with all us dumb scared creatures screaming in the back seat.

My name's Cuddy Mangum. I don’t much like it. Short for Cudberth, by which I suspect my mother meant Cuthbert, though I never called it to her attention. Everybody's always known me as Cuddy. Cudberth would have been worse. Or Cud.

A few years back, I was made police chief here in Hillston, North Carolina. If you ever read a story by Justin Savile, you know that, but chances are you’ve got too cute a notion of who I am. Justin's loved me for years without a clue to my meaning. He sees things personally. Me, I look at the package, and the program. According to Justin, I’m somewhere between young Abe Lincoln in cracker country and the mop-up man on
Hee Haw
. A kind of Carolina Will Rogers without the rope tricks. And Justin's always
adding to his portrait. He never read a book without looking for everybody he knows in it, and it didn’t take him long to find me chasing after a dream like Gatsby, wearing some buckskin moral outfit Natty Bumpo left behind. I’m not saying his views aren’t flattering. But if my arms had had the stretch of Justin's imagination, I could have bounced through the state university free, playing basketball, instead of slapping concrete on the new sports arena for four years to pay my way.

Justin and I are natives of the same tobacco and textiles city in the North Carolina Piedmont. But his folks shipped him out of Hillston early, off to some woodsy New England prep school, then to Harvard, where his imagination got away from him for a while, and they had to lock him up in a sanatorium near Asheville. I saw it once; it looked like Monte Carlo. Afterwards, they smuggled him into law school in Virginia, but he ran home to Hillston and threw them into a hissie by joining the police. I’ve heard his reasons. They’re all personal.

BOOK: Time's Witness
3.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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