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Harper Lee

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Harper Lee plot thickens!

Last month, the author's publisher announced that it would be unearthing a long-lost novel, titled Go Set a Watchman, that Lee wrote before completing the infamous To Kill a Mockingbird. Initial reaction to the announcement was overwhelmingly positive, as fans of Mockingbird had long been bumming over the fact that it was the author's only book. But critics also surfaced, questioning whether Watchman was being released against the aging Lee's will. 

Now, an investigative reporter with the Birmingham News is claiming that he has proof that Harper Lee appears to be in fact lucid and every bit aware of the circumstances. But it still sounds a little fishy to us. 

What happened is this: In an effort to find out once and for all whether she does support the new book's release, Connor Sheets made several attempts to contact the famously press-averse author. His final plea was a two-page letter, which was sent back to him in an unmarked envelope a week later. What's more interesting, at the bottom was written "Go away! Harper Lee."

Sheets believes that this message appears to prove that Lee is still with it and has maintained her signature sass (and dislike of reporters), suggesting that she is the one in control of Watchman's release. That's a nice thought, sure, but we aren't sure it's quite that simple. 

For starters, there's no real proof that the message actually came from Harper herself. Sheets notes that the handwriting looks very similar to Lee's confirmed signature, and of course whoever sent it is at the very least in close contact with Lee. But to get a little conspiratorial, the note could have easily been written by anyone. 

Then assuming it was actually Lee who told Sheets to stay away, it proves nothing more than the fact that she's still deeply shy and unwilling to garner herself any attention. Which, of course, doesn't quite jibe with the reasoning behind deciding to publish Go Set a Watchman after all these years. 

In other words, this incident has done nothing for skeptics but raise even more questions about the whole situation. And that's not even taking into account the possibility that this is all a prank or fabrication. It just means we'll all have to keep digging.