Murder In Mississippi
by John Safran
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When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.
At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime? Seizing his Truman Capote moment, he jumped on a plane to cover the trial.
Over six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.
Murder in Mississippi is a brilliantly innovative true-crime story. Taking us places only he can, Safran paints an engrossing, revealing portrait of a dead man, his murderer, the place they lived and the process of trying to find out the truth about anything.
'One of the best pieces of sustained, rigorous journalism I've read in twenty years. It is absolutely magnificent – smart, and wry, and emotional too.' Caroline Overington
'The elegance of this book is that its axis is a resounding 'perhaps' . . . It is this moral ambivalence that draws readers to the true crime genre, and Safran nails it.' Weekend Australian
'Witty, insightful, compelling – In Cold Blood for our generation.' Eddie Perfect
'[Safran] has written a marvellous book which I cannot put down.' Melbourne Observer
'Now I know what to recommend people who liked Them.' Jon Ronson, author of The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test
'Stunning' Men's Style
- True Crime
- Publication Date:
- Hamish Hamilton
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Average Rating by customers
Read customer reviews on Murder In Mississippi
17/12/2013I have been a fan of John Safrans TV series and radio shows for a while. When Id heard about his new book and its premise I was really interested to read it.
Murder is Mississippi is the true-crime investigation to the murder of white supremacist, Richard Barrett, by a black man, Vincent McGee. Safrans delivery is of the investigation is interesting, flowing and full of the recognizable Safran-isms. From what initially appears to be a racial crime, complexities of each individuals case develop and as it unfolds it makes you question whether either parties can be called completely innocent or guilty.
An entertaining and riveting book, the perfect true crime read for summer!
12/06/2013John Safran is one of my favourite documentary makers. I find him to be an outstanding story teller, making sure that his facts are accurate while infusing some of his humour in his works. I guess this is what makes Murder in Mississippi such a good read, despite it being a non-fiction title.
The premise and the cover intrigued me so I ended up buying a copy. I must admit though that I had my doubts about this book. I mean, I have such high expectations for any work produced by Safran and I was concerned that I made a mistake buying this book right away. Fortunately, Murder in Mississippi lived up to my expectations.
I also noticed that Safrans writing style made me feel like I was part of the documentary team. His descriptions of the characters and situations were vivid. I even found myself asking what the motive behind the murder was even before reaching that part of the book. Was it all because of racism? Or was there an even deeper political agenda behind the killing? This documentary even hinted at sex as a possible angle for the murder.
I feel bad that a murder had to happen so that I can enjoy another great Safran documentary, but this book is really worth reading if youre into investigative journalism.
Fascinating true crime.
12/06/2013Channeling his inner Truman Capote, John Safran didnt pass up the chance to cover what could be one of the most engrossing crime stories of our time. Murder in Mississippi begins when a white supremacist, who he knew from his TV show Race Relations, was murdered by a black man. Sure, this kind of thing occurs in an environment of such animosity. But what was seemingly a straightforward race crime turned out to be something else, something more complex. When more details started rolling in, investigators began looking into the prospect of the killing as one that resulted from moneyor sex. They speculated that the white supremacist couldve been gay, and that he was in some sort of relationship with his black killer. Safran himself headed towards the scene of the crime to get to the bottom of things. In the book, we follow his quest for truth, which certainly isnt what he initially expected.
John Safran crafted a story thats fascinating from the first page up to the last. The Australian writer, radio broadcaster, and documentary maker imbued his murder and mystery tale with his signature wit and humour as well, which did nothing but augment the books readability. As a big fan of crime narratives, I found Murder in Mississippi to be a gripping adventure and easily one of the top reads of the year.
18/10/2013Safrans general approach to everything he creates is head down, charge, and see where you end up. Hes vilified and hated by half the country, loved by the other half and when youre dealing with such extreme topics like white supremacy its easy to see why hes polarising. In this book he tells the true story of what looks like a fairly straightforward race-hate crime in the brutal stabbing of an outspoken and controversial white supremacist by a black man in heartland Mississippi, a place where the Confederate flag is still the norm in many places. As the story unwinds Safran plants himself as the centre of the story, as he is want to do, but it fits his amateur approaches to investigating the crime and the fish-out-of-water act he plays so well is really entertaining and the story flies along. The relationship that he builds with the killer is often very funny and its easy to forget that this guy is a real life murderer, and were talking about a real life killing. Im fairly sure that Murder in Mississippi is the only true-crime novel out there that you could classify as quite fun.