Investigation into ‘elder abuse’ claim over new Harper Lee novel

Alabama investigators have responded to a claim of possible elder abuse related to the upcoming publication of the second novel by Harper Lee, the 88-year-old author of To Kill a Mockingbird, the New York Times reported.

The Times, citing a source with knowledge of the probe, said officials interviewed Lee in February as well as employees of her assisted living facility, named the Meadows, and some of her friends following an unspecified complaint tied to the publication of Go Set a Watchman.

The complainant is said to be from a doctor who believes Lee is infirm. She suffered a stroke in 2007 which caused her vision and hearing problems.

Many are suspicious about the timing of the book as it comes only months after the death of Lee’s sister, Alice, who looked after her affairs after her stroke.

The Times said Lee “appeared capable of understanding questions and provided cogent answers to investigators”.

“Confidentiality laws prevent me from either confirming or denying whether an investigation exists,” said Barry Spear, spokesman for the Alabama Human Resources Department

Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, has deflected publicly aired concerns, including from actress Mia Farrow and writer Madeleine Davies, about whether Lee was pressured into agreeing to have the book published.

“She is alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions of Watchman,” Carter said in a statement.

Carter said that Lee was “hurt and humiliated” by allegations that she was pressured into publishing Go Set a Watchman.

Go Set a Watchman was written before the 1960, Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, which went on to sell more than 30 million copies and has become a classic without an encore.

The book is scheduled to be published on July 14.


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