Next book

DEER CREEK DRIVE

A RECKONING OF MEMORY AND MURDER IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA

Lowry’s dry wit, honed sentences, and careful way of connecting the dots make her case: This is quite a story.

The details of a 1948 murder in small-town Mississippi anchor a personal account of class, race, and justice.

The author of numerous novels and works of nonfiction, Lowry has created a signature genre that combines deeply researched true crime with memoir—e.g., Crossed Over (1992); Who Killed These Girls? (2016). Her latest focuses on the murder of Idella Thompson in Leland, Mississippi, just a few miles from the author’s hometown of Greenville. Thompson was hacked to death in her home in the middle of the afternoon, suffering more than 150 blows from a pair of pruning shears. Her daughter Ruth Dickins, who reported the death and was found at the scene in blood-soaked clothing, claimed to have interrupted "a Negro" in the act of murder. Despite a two-week manhunt, this hasty fabrication could not be supported, and Mrs. Dickins was tried, convicted, and sent to a prison farm. Police never uncovered the true motive, though both women were known to be "high-tempered and difficult." Lowry was 10 at the time of the crime and followed the trial and its aftermath along with everyone else in the Delta. Though few doubted Dickins was guilty, the governor received petitions for her release every year. Others saw class bias in the call for clemency and thought she should stay right where she was. "Before suspending Mrs. Dickins's sentence," one woman suggested, "the governor [should] get the pictures of Mrs. Thompson's body and see for himself the mercy and consideration she gave her mother." Lowry chronicles the checkered fortunes of her own, less prominent family alongside those of the Thompson/Dickins clan, and though these stories have no real reason to be conjoined, the author uses both to illustrate the effects of the changing mores and social structure of the period. At one point, she was selected by her school to appear in a TV segment in which White students—“dumb as fence posts”—made the case against desegregation.

Lowry’s dry wit, honed sentences, and careful way of connecting the dots make her case: This is quite a story.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-65723-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Next book

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Close Quickview