Before the television age, when “crime of the century” meant something, the public was unduly fascinated by murder. This was especially true during the Great Depression, when Americans were desperate for escapist fare. The more bizarre or glamorous the crime, the greater their 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.S. 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.