The blood drying under the Mississippi moon was the bluest in Natchez.
Before the television age, when "crime of the century" meant something, the public was unduly fascinated by murder. This was especial true during the Great Depression, when Americans were desperate for escapist far. The more bizarre or glamorous the crime, the greater the fascination, and few intrigued them more than the events of August 4, 1932 in Natchez, Mississippi. The brutal shooting of spinster recluse Jennie Surget Merrill grabbed instant headlines with tales of fabulous wealth, beautiful women, European royalty, Southern aristocracy, a U> President and the Confederate President, army generals and ambassadors, not to mention madness, incest, racism, bitter internecine feuds, vertiginous falls from grace and eccentricity in spades. The case became known as the Goat Castle Murder.
Michael Llewellyn has taken the known facts of the case, breathed life into these eccentric Southerners, and created a fascinating novel, The Goat Castle Murder.
"For the reader who likes a good historical novel, this is a must. For the reader who likes an intricate who-done-it, this is also a must. For the reader who likes both, this is a gift." Gene Farrington, The Blue Heron
Posted by Montgomery Edwards on 7th Nov 2016
The Goat Castle Murder, Michael Llewellyn’s latest novel, stunningly retells the true and troubled story of a Natchez socialite murdered in 1932. The victim, Jennie Merrill, a blueblood rich girl, lived and loved in a defeated and depressed post-Civil-war Mississippi. She and her cousin, Duncan Minor, became friends with wealthy neighbors and socialites Dick Dana and Octavia Dockery. Love, sex, money, poverty, and mental illness washed over their Mississippi mansions as decades passed. The friendships soured. Dana’s misfortunes caused his home to deteriorate until it was over-run by farm animals – hence the property’s nickname and book title. At age 68, eccentric Jennie was found murdered, shot by an unknown assailant. Former friends Dana and Dockery and a separate set of local folks immediately became suspects. Until now the murder remained unsolved.
The previously known facts of this strange event are well documented in other books and articles. But in this novel, the story unfolds with Llewellyn’s gifted prose -putting words in dead mouths - parlant de la tombe. Himself a Southern gentleman, the author has honed his understanding and mastered his nuanced descriptions of the people and places in the deep South. Llewellyn’s scenes flow like the Mississippi, fast then deliberate, with foreseeable events and unexpected turbulence. Knowing the story and its outcome challenges the writer and the reader. This masterful treatment is a success. Montgomery Edwards, October 2016.