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Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia

Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia

4.8 9
by Edward Humes

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On a quiet September afternoon, Lynne Sposito learned that her parents, Vincent and Margaret Sherry, had been shot to death in their Biloxi, Mississippi, home. One of the city's most prominent couples — he served as Circuit Court judge and she was runng for mayor — the Sherry's were mourned by a community. But for a stunned and grieving daughter, the


On a quiet September afternoon, Lynne Sposito learned that her parents, Vincent and Margaret Sherry, had been shot to death in their Biloxi, Mississippi, home. One of the city's most prominent couples — he served as Circuit Court judge and she was runng for mayor — the Sherry's were mourned by a community. But for a stunned and grieving daughter, the nightmare was hust beginning.

Racing to Biloxi for answers, Lynne found the police investigation in chaos. The only sure lead was that the Sherry's murder somehow was connected to the Dixie Mafia, a predatory band of criminals who ran Biloxi's beachfront hub of sex, drugs, and sleaze known as The Strip. Lynne, armed with a savvy private eye — and a .357 Magnum — set out to accomplish what the authorities could not or would not do: hunt down her parents' assassins and bring them to justice.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes delivers a shocking and bizarre tale set against a teeming underworld of merciless killers, ruthless con men, and venal politicians. Mississippi Mud portrays how one woman's steely obsession for the truth shook a city to its foundation — and nearly destroyed everything she loved.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vincent Sherry, a circuit court judge in Biloxi, and his wife, Margaret, city council member and a reform mayoral candidate, were fatally shot at their Mississippi home in 1987. The eldest of their four children, Lynne Sposito, hired a private detective. Biloxi had a history as a sin city; some of its cops were corrupt, while others were barely competent, and the police tried to implicate the Sherrys' adopted son in the murder. The individual perceived by Sposito to be most likely to suffer from a reform administration was Mike Gillich, who owned a number of strip joints in Biloxi; he was connected to con man Kirksey Nix, who was subsequently convicted of murder in Louisiana and given a life sentence. Nix's longtime lawyer was Vincent Sherry's law partner, Pete Halat, who may or may not have profited from Nix's many scams. Four years after the slayings, Gillich, Nix and two others were found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Sherrys' murder and given long prison terms. But questions remain, notes the author: ``No one has been charged with the actual killings.'' Humes ( Buried Secrets ) has written an exceptionally fine depiction of a multifaceted case. Photos. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Mississippi Mud tells the story of the shocking 1987 double murder of Biloxi mayoral candidate Margaret Sherry and her husband, Judge Vincent Sherry. Lynn Sposito, their daughter, quickly found out that the Biloxi police seemed more intent on covering up the murder rather than solving it. With supreme courage and the aid of a highly recommended private investigator, she uncovered connections between her father's law firm and partner and the Dixie Mafia-a tight-knit circle of criminals who kept Biloxi's gambling casinos and strip joints running-and particularly to an immensely profitable telephone scam being run directly from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Sposito discovered a plot to kill her parents because somehow a large portion of the immense profits from the scam was missing and her father had been implicated. Bringing this information to the authorities finally led to the conviction of a number of people for conspiracy to commit murder. This book has been carefully constructed to read like a fast-paced, engrossing suspense novel. The reader is quickly caught up in the richly described world of teeming corruption that is Biloxi, and the characters seem more like the fictional Elmore Leonard types than "real people." Highly recommended.-Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Mary Carroll
Horror stories about what has passed for justice in the Magnolia State for African Americans are all too familiar; what is unusual in Pulitzer Prize-winner Humes' tale of corruption and murder is that the victims, living and dead, were pillars of the white establishment. When the Sherrys were murdered in their Biloxi home in September 1987, Margaret was a conservative Republican activist planning her second campaign for mayor, and husband, Vincent, an air force "lifer" who became a prominent defense attorney when the couple retired to the Gulf Coast, was a county judge. Frustrated by the inadequate investigative efforts of local law enforcement agencies, the oldest of the Sherrys' four children, Lynn Sposito, took up the cause: she harassed police and prosecutors, hired a private investigator, and pushed and prodded for years to expose the shocking links between her parents' murder, Biloxi's venal politicians and brutal vice lords, and a sleazy lonely-hearts scam run from a career criminal's cell in Louisiana's state penetentiary in Angola. The Sherry case resists closure; although four people were convicted of related charges, the Sherrys' shooter has never been convincingly identified. Humes' "Mississippi Mud" reconstructs the complex story absorbingly enough to make it the basis for a planned four-part TV miniseries.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.58(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.11(d)

Meet the Author

EDWARD HUMES, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting, is the author of many critically acclaimed nonfiction books including, most recently, Eco Barons, Monkey Girl, Over Here, and School Of Dreams. He is currently writer-at-large for Los Angeles magazine and lives in California. Visit www.edwardhumes.com.

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Mississippi Mud 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I suggest this story to anyone and everyone. I live in Biloxi, right down the street from where these 2 nice people were shot. Everything in the story is very true down the detail. I enjoyed the reading and could not put it down. If you love believable mysteries, here is one for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He leaves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
With tears in my eyes, I read this well written true murder mystery. My heart goes out to all the Sherrys' children. This book revealed many heroes that walk softly amongst us on our Mississippi Gulf Coast. After the 1997 Sherry Conspiracy Murder Trial Convictions, I pray that maybe their children will find some type of closure. I am relieved that the Nix character does not have access to a telephone. And I am happy that the Halat character, Judge Sherry¿s best friend and law partner, was convicted for his part in the murders. My prayers are with the Sherrys¿ children and their families.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book, and upon nearing the end you just couldn't read the words fast enough? This is one of those books. Don't forget to search online for the updated ending!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Edward Humes has written a masterful account of but two of the many slaughters committed by the Dixie Mafia. Mr. Humes commands my respect for having written such an easy to follow guide into the workings of the most vicious, but little known gang of killers known as the Dixie Mafia. The D.M.'s home base is Biloxi, Mississippi, but their largest area of operation is Atlanta, Georgia. In 1974 the Dixie Mafia was suspected to have butchered more than thirty people in nearby Braselton, GA and burried them in shallow graves along the banks of the Mulberry River. I personally know a man who claimed many years ago to have been a member of the gang.. I have researched this story and there are articles about this case in the NEW YORK TIMES and the ATLANTA JOURNAL and CONSTITUTION... Mr. Humes, my hat is definitely off to you and my heart out for Ms. Sposito.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. The facts superbly documented. I just wish justice could have been swifter for that poor daughter. They should put those awful men under the jail. Especially that Nix character. I do think Mr. Humes assagerated his intelligence a bit though. If he was so smart he wouldn't be in jail now would he.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Watches her from a distance.