Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
3:55 pm EST
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pulitzer Prize-winning author King to give presentation in Mount Dora

Author Gilbert King. // Provided photo

Author Gilbert King, awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for his Lake County-based book, “Devil in the Grove: The Groveland Boys, Sheriff Willis McCall, Thurgood Marshall, and the Dawn of a New America,” returns to Mount Dora to talk about his newest and highly anticipated work, “Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found.”

The free presentation, which will include a Q&A period and a book signing, is scheduled for 4pm Sunday, May 6, at the Mount Dora Community Center, 520 N. Baker St. Mount Dora Productions, W.T. Bland Public Library, Lake County Library System, and the city of Mount Dora are presenting the event, a news release states.

The author will examine an era in Lake County when justice was perverted by bigotry and the force of white privilege while wrongful incarcerations were tempered by the power of the free press. Published by Riverhead Books, “Beneath a Ruthless Sun” is investigative nonfiction at its absolute finest, a gripping true crime tale based on a rape case in 1950s Leesburg that raises themes that still haunt us today, the release states.

“The era Gilbert King examines in such exacting detail is one that many people in Lake County are unaware of,” Gary McKechnie, of Mount Dora Productions, says in the release. “Few people know Okahumpka was the source of not one, not two, but three Supreme Court cases; that there was a time when innocent people were imprisoned, or even killed, by a sociopathic sheriff; and that, as in the case of Jesse Daniels, the subject of ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun,’ Lake County judges, juries, deputies, and attorneys knowingly manufactured or accepted falsified evidence to send a mentally disabled teenager to a notoriously cruel mental institution in Chattahoochee. It was only through the combined efforts of his mother Pearl, Mount Dora reporter Mabel Norris Reese, and attorney Richard Graham that he was freed after more than 14 years in the Florida State Hospital.”

Publishers Weekly says of King’s new book: “The perversions of justice under Jim Crow chart a devious path in this labyrinthine true crime saga…Packed with riveting characters and startling twists, King’s narrative unfolds like a Southern gothic noir probing the recesses of a poisoned society.”

For more information or to request an interview with Gilbert King, call 352.383.2679 or visit