Nonfiction Recommendation: Goat Castle

If you’re a fan of true crime stories, don’t miss this wonderful historical one by Karen Cox, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Goat Castle

According to the University of North Carolina Press website, the book tells this story:

In 1932, the city of Natchez, Mississippi, reckoned with an unexpected influx of journalists and tourists as the lurid story of a local murder was splashed across headlines nationwide. Two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery—known in the press as the “Wild Man” and the “Goat Woman”—enlisted an African American man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed. The crime drew national coverage when it came to light that Dana and Dockery, the alleged murderers, shared their huge, decaying antebellum mansion with their goats and other livestock, which prompted journalists to call the estate “Goat Castle.” Pearls was killed by an Arkansas policeman in an unrelated incident before he could face trial. However, as was all too typical in the Jim Crow South, the white community demanded “justice,” and an innocent black woman named Emily Burns was ultimately sent to prison for the murder of Merrill. Dana and Dockery not only avoided punishment but also lived to profit from the notoriety of the murder by opening their derelict home to tourists.

Karen’s southern Gothic story has even earned a blurb from John Grisham: “Goat Castle is a highly entertaining story about a long-forgotten murder. It is also a reminder of the racism and intolerance found in southern history and of how difficult change has been. It’s a terrific read.”

Karen stopped by the Nonfiction Fans Facebook discussion group to talk about Goat Castle and her writing process. Take a look there for more fascinating tidbits about the book.

And if you’re already thinking about holiday gift giving, you should put Goat Castle at the top of your book-buying list.