Nonfiction Book Club: October 202310 October 2023
Our Nonfiction Book Club will be reading The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko & Tucker Carrington. We will meet in person October 10th at 5:30pm in the Hattiesburg Library’s Board Room (2nd Floor).
Yes – there will be snacks! Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk of Hattiesburg Library. New members are welcome – feel free to email [email protected] with questions.
“After two 3-year-old girls were raped and murdered in rural Mississippi, law enforcement pursued and convicted two innocent men: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Together they spent a combined 30 years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008.
Meanwhile, the real killer remained free. The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist recounts the story of how the criminal justice system allowed this to happen, and of how two men, Dr. Steven Hayne and Dr. Michael West, built successful careers on the back of that structure. For nearly two decades, Hayne, a medical examiner, performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades.
Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart. Here, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington tell the haunting story of how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system – a relic of the Jim Crow era – failed to deliver justice for its citizens. The authors argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, raising sobering questions about our ability and willingness to address these crucial issues. “