Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Mid-Twentieth Century Mysteries

      
Benjamin Hawkins Dean

Born in 1892, Benjamin Hawkins Dean later wrote for one of his dust jacket covers: “I was born at Senatobia, Mississippi, so many years ago that a family horse and I met our first automobile together and I was worse scared than the horse.” After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1912, he moved to Florida. He tried various occupations -- teaching, banking, pumping oil, grading cattle and hogs, and selling real estate and groceries -- before ending up in the paper business. Dean also wrote four mysteries under the pseudonym Dean Hawkins and one under the name Schuyler Brooks.

In Memory of Murder (1936), Skull Mountain (1941), and Walls of Silence (1943) first appeared as Doubleday Crime Club editions. Begun in 1928, Doubleday’s subscription sales service of mystery stories was the first time an American publisher delivered hardcover editions of the genre on a regular basis. The firm published both established and new authors, British and American, under the imprint of the little gunman. In 1943, the Crime Club introduced “bullseyes,” whose symbols on the front dust jacket flap, and later the spine, indicated the type of story inside. Set in the fictional Mississippi town of “Afton,” the bullseye for Walls of Silence promised a tale with “Character and Atmosphere.” Note also the intimations of World War II in the promotion of Victory Bonds, the notice that the book conformed to wartime paper usage, and the suggestion that the reader forward the novel to an army library.

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