The world of books evens the playing field-- delivering truth, connectedness, and beauty across miles and generations. These are a few of my favorite reads that have inspired, shaped, and motivated me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia" by Edward Humes

Mississippi Mud is a true story revolving around the mysterious murders
of two  prominent Biloxi, Mississippi residents in the late 1980s. The book
painstakingly and dramatically reenacts the goings on in the underbelly
of this Southern Strip of corruption and crime (run by the 'Dixie Mafia')
and the murky interactions of a handful of southern undesirables that led
up to the deaths of husband and wife, Vincent and Margaret Sherry.

Through the eyes of police detectives, con artists, lifers, hired killers, and, most poignantly--the tireless avenger of the Sherrys, their eldest
daughter, Lynne--a storyline is set up that will keep readers rapt. (At
one point, the information presented seemed to indicate rather an
extensive selection of potential suspects.)

Humes beautifully orchestrates the manipulation of timeline and massive
amounts of information. Taken from interviews, transcripts, testimony,
public records, newspaper articles, police reports, news reports, and a good
bit of detective work, the voluminous information is presented in a pot-boiler
manner so that you are unable to predict what will happen next.

And yet there is a comprehensible, easily-absorbed sense as he makes
the torrent of information seem effortless. There is such a rich, vast story
here, painting the humanity of the Sherrys and connecting the readers to
them as if they were our own though we are the ones gnawing
and climbing the walls over the frustrating lack of justice and the far reaches
of the city's corruption.

This is the exhaustive study of how two lives of essentially regular
people can become trivialized by a system filled with corruption,
incompetence, and intimidation. The Southern mafia, perhaps seemingly
a joke at first, becomes a very real and frightening wall of power that,
as anyone who has lived in the south for five minutes can attest, is a
very real and frightening thing.

Kirksey Nix with all his swagger and charm and homilies and smarts
doesn't have anything on Stalin or Mussolini in the sociopath depart-
ment, and he's an all-too common face of the new criminal. The 
devastation of all the harm done by his schemes--from the comfort
of a prison cell--is staggering.

The heroine of the book, Lynne Sposito (daughter of the murder victims) pushes on well past the point most would have dissolved into
tears or fallen to pieces; facing death threats, the concerns for family
safety, stress and grief, and a burden that seemed as though it might
never end...her parents possibly never receiving closure on their lives.

(Note of warning: DON'T look at the photos included in the book
until you've read it! Even though placed in the middle, the captions
accompanying the photos for the central characters gave away
results not found until the end of the book, destroying much of
the suspense!)