Murder In The Grove gives fictional account of 1962 UM riot

Published 9:05 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

If you love Oxford and Ole Miss, you will love Michael Henry’s new novel, Murder In The Grove.

Willie Mitchell Banks is newly-retired from his position as District Attorney in fictional Yaloquena County in the heart of the Delta, and has moved to Oxford. An ailing golfing buddy asks Willie Mitchell to investigate a cold case, the murder of the golfer’s brother, 22-year-old Russell Fratelli, an Ole Miss senior, during the James Meredith riot in the Grove on Sunday night, Sept. 30, 1962.

Willie Mitchell knows solving a 53-year-old homicide is not likely, but because his friend may not have long to live, he agrees to look into the case.

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Willie Mitchell educates himself and the reader on the riot in the archives of the Oxford EAGLE and the records of the Daily Mississippian on campus, ultimately leading to his discovery that the killer of the Ole Miss senior used the riot as cover for a very personal murder.

Murder In The Grove is Henry’s eighth novel, his sixth in the Willie Mitchell Banks series, and is his best, most personal work.

In weaving well-researched historical facts with his fictional murder mystery, Henry makes it clear that after dark that Sunday night in 1962, when the bullets, tear gas, and Molotov cocktails began to fly, Ole Miss students and Oxonians had long fled, abandoning the Grove to the reactionary segregationists who invaded Oxford They poured onto the Ole Miss campus from all over the South, from Texas to Georgia. These violent outsiders had no affiliation with Ole Miss, but their actions in the Grove stained the University’s reputation for decades to come.

Murder In The Grove is available in Oxford exclusively at Square Books. It can be found also at Amazon and other online book retailers in e-book and print versions.