Gilbert King is the author of Beneath a Ruthless Sun. His previous book, Devil in the Grove, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 2013 and was a New York Times best seller. King has written about race, civil rights, and the death penalty for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic. King is also a contributor to The Marshall Project. He lives in Brooklyn.
MFOB FEATURED BOOK: Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found
In December 1957, the wife of a Florida citrus baron is raped in her home while her husband is away. She claims a “husky Negro” did it, and the sheriff, the infamous racist Willis McCall, does not hesitate to round up a herd of suspects. But within days, McCall turns his sights on Jesse Daniels, a gentle, mentally impaired white 19-year-old. Soon Jesse is railroaded up to the state hospital for the insane, and locked away without trial. But crusading journalist Mabel Norris Reese cannot stop fretting over the case and its baffling outcome. Who was protecting whom, or what? She pursues the story for years, chasing down leads, hitting dead ends, winning unlikely allies. Bit by bit, the unspeakable truths behind a conspiracy that shocked a community into silence begin to surface.