The Ways of the Hour was James Fenimore Cooper's last novel, published in 1850. Set in a rural New York county seat outside New York City, it is a courtroom drama of a woman accused of murder and theft, and of the men and women who defend her case. The surprise ending is perhaps as unexpected as any in crime fiction. Cooper used the novel, among other things, to express his discontent with changes in New York State's judicial system during the 1840s, with the corruption of courts and juries, and with new ideas of women's rights. The accused woman, Mary Monson, is a notable character in her own right. The Ways of the Hour should be considered a classic in the history of the mystery novel -- as it is perhaps the first novel to revolve almost entirely about a courtroom murder trial.