Review: From Midnight to Guntown by John Hailman


Title: From Midnight to Guntown: True Crime Stories from a Federal Prosecutor in Mississippi

Author: John Hailman

Published: University Press of Mississippi April 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 31 to April 01, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Netgalley/publisher}

My Thoughts:

From Midnight to Guntown is a true account of various cases encountered by retired Federal prosecutor John Hailman during his thirty year career in the Mississippi justice system.

The cases Hailman relates are interesting and cover a wide range of criminal activity from bank robbery to corruption and terrorism. The focus is on the workings of the justice system and specifically Hailman’s role in the investigation and prosecution of the cases he dealt with.

Occasionally the cases are amusing, detailing bungling robbers for example, but more often they are simply tragic, such as in the case of the Natchez Trace shooting which resulted in the death of a young boy. I was horrified to learn that in Hailman’s district an amateur local hitman will usually kill for less than $5000, often for less than $1000 and saddened to learn that racial tensions still flourish in the South. While some cases are mentioned only in passing several are the focus of in depth reporting including the murder of Emmett Till, an African American boy who was murdered aged 14 in 1955 for flirting with a white woman and whose case was reopened in 2004.

Hailman’s writing has a lot in common with a detailed legal brief. It is rich with procedural detail, perhaps too much for the average reader though the minutiae of he said/she said/he did/she did will probably be appreciated by someone who works in the legal or justice system.  The text isn’t entirely dry however, Hailmain is candid and personable and even humourous at times.

Usually I am content to ignore formatting issues in e-galley’s but in this instance I found it affected my reading experience. A line and a half of text, was followed by a blank line, then a line and a half of text, then a blank line and so on, and this became a real issue for me as it was very distracting.

From Midnight to Guntown shares fascinating insights into the complexity of crime and justice in Mississippi. This is a book true crime and legal thriller buffs are sure to enjoy.

Available to Purchase

@University Press of Mississippi I @Amazon

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Melinda
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 23:51:20

    I hate it when that happens (the format affecting your reading experience). On the book, I would however give it a skip. I don’t enjoy legal thrillers that are too technical on the legal details. It distracts me a bit and I loose interest …



I want to know what you think! Your comments are appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s