The Goat Castle Murder

“The blood drying under the Mississippi moon was the bluest in Natchez.”

August, 1932. New York and London society are shocked by the brutal murder of Jennie Surget Merrill in the faraway town of Natchez, Mississippi. Jennie, once the darling of the belle époque smart set, had become a notorious recluse at her vast estate Glenburnie Manor where she received no callers save the “Mississippi Miser,” her wealthy cousin Duncan Minor. Accused of the crime are avowed enemies Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery living at nearby Glenwood, a fabled villa so derelict it’s been nicknamed Goat Castle. Once a Manhattan musical prodigy, Dana roams the hills in a gunny sack and waist length beard as the “Wild Man of Natchez,” while Octavia, a Confederate general’s daughter who attended New York’s finest schools and wore gowns by Worth of Paris is known as the “Goat Woman.”

The rarefied realm of this strange quartet directly or tangentially involved no less personages than General Robert E. Lee, Queen Victoria, King Leopold of Belgium, President Ulysses Grant, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, social reformer Jacob Riis and Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl. Their vertiginous fall from grace so captivated the Depression-era public that special trains were inaugurated to transport curiosity-seekers to Natchez, once a millionaire’s playground, now a forgotten hamlet perched on the Mississippi River’s highest bluff. What they witnessed sent rumors swarming around what the press dubbed “the Goat Castle Murder,” but the world would soon learn that the truth was far more bizarre.

“Impeccably written and rich with detail, The Goat Castle Murder is a provocative story of lost grandeur, peppered with elements of incest, insanity, and extreme eccentricity. What more could a reader want?” –Celeste Berteau, Baton Rouge Advocate

“For the reader who likes a good historical novel, this is a must. For the reader who likes an intricate whodunit, this is also a must. For the reader who likes both, this is a gift.” –Gene Farrington, author of The Blue Heron


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