New Mississippi Author Visits Winston County With Southern Thriller

 Mississippi author J. Stephen Beam will sign copies of his acclaimed first novel, The  Death Letter (Dogwood Press, 2023), at the Winston County Library on Friday, February 2 at 11:30 a.m. First edition signed copies will be available for $24.95 plus tax. Beam, a retired physician who practiced medicine for more than three decades, is originally from Itawamba County. He and his wife, Dawn, a sitting justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, live near Hattiesburg in the town of Sumrall, but the setting for the author’s first book is Beam’s stomping grounds near Fulton.

“Often, when troops are deployed into a war zone, they’re encouraged to write a death letter to the most important person in their lives,” Beam said of the novel. “In other words, they’re preparing not to return. In the prologue, there’s an excerpt from a mysterious letter addressed to Ellie, and it’s noted that the letter was composed in Bamburg, Germany, in 2008.” Protagonist and war hero Jesse Thomas has dealt with a lot in his short life, including the loss of his parents in a fatal automobile crash over a decade ago. What has Jesse perplexed is that no one talks any longer about his wife, Mary, who went missing more than a year ago; it’s as if she never existed.

The one clue investigators found was the remains of Mary’s dog. Although no one in law enforcement seems to find the discovery important, Jesse thinks it matters a lot. But other than sympathy, it’s difficult to get much else from enigmatic sheriff Frankie Weatherford, Jesse’s legal guardian and the father of Brax, Jesse’s best friend growing up. Mr. Frankie, who has been like a second father, wouldn’t have anything to hide . . . would he?

“‘The Death Letter’ reminds me so much of Nicholas Sparks’ classic love stories with a shot of Joe Lee’s north Mississippi mysteries,” said reviewer J.C. Patterson in The Clarion Ledger and Hattiesburg American. “The characters are so real, they jump off the pages. Beneath a tricky mystery lies a sweet story of friendship and love that refuses to falter despite the odds.”

The Winston County Library is located at 100 W. Park Street. To reserve signed copies of The Death Letter, call 662-773-3212. Friends of the Library will provide a free brown bag lunch for participants.

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