Updated March 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm.
From the instant that Harper Lee's new book was announced, a feeling of discomfort welled up in many readers and observers. Why was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird only now publishing the manuscript? Did she have the mental acuity to truly consent to the publication, much less to take any steps necessary to prepare Go Set a Watchman for printing? Wasn't it fishy that the decision came after a long silence, yet so soon after the death of her sister and protector?
It wasn't just literature fans who wondered what happened: So did the state of Alabama. The New York Times reported Thursday that the state Human Resources Department and Alabama Securities Commission had launched an inquiry into whether Lee is suffering elder abuse, following at least one complaint.
But the investigation was closed within hours of that report, with officials saying that Lee answered investigators' questions about potential financial fraud. The state cited confidentiality laws in refusing to discuss the investigation with the Times, but a spokesman offered some background information:
Caseworkers generally talk to people who may be victims to evaluate their physical, mental and emotional state, and they interview doctors, family members, caretakers and friends, Mr. Spear said.
In some cases, an investigation may involve subpoenaing financial and other records. Among the records that may be available are cognitive assessments of Ms. Lee by the staff of the Meadows. The facility agreed to make such monthly assessments on each resident as part of a settlement of a 2014 review by inspectors of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Lee herself was interviewed last month at her assisted-living facility, and many of her friends and acquaintances have been as well.