Manfred Eugene "Hog" Webern, a retired Dallas County deputy sheriff, is talked into going undercover in Biloxi, Mississippi, in a multistate effort to nail a group of traveling Southern criminals who have been tagged by the press with the lurid name "Dixie Mafia." After making contact with the gang's nominal leader, the notorious Jasper Sparks, Webern begins to worm his way into the group's confidence. He also meets and becomes involved with an old friend of Sparks, the mysterious Nell Bigelow, a former assistant federal prosecutor whose daddy "owns half the Delta."
Having gained the gang's trust, Webern soon learns that the score being planned is the massive robbery of a wintering carnival of an entire year's receipts. Joining in planning the job, he meets such well-known hijackers as Slops Moline, a Charleston, South Carolina, killer and armed robber; Lardass Collins, the country's premier car thief; Tom-Tom Reed, one of the world's most skilled safecrackers; and the infamous Raymond "Hardhead" Weller, an Alabama-born moonshiner who has pulled off more than two dozen high-profile contract killings in his seventy years.
As the story develops, Webern is drawn into a maelstrom of robbery, mayhem, and senseless violence that threatens to engulf his very being. And before the final curtain falls on THE SWEET AND THE DEAD, we learn that in the murky world of Southern professional crime, nothing is ever quite what it seems to be.
About the Author
Milton T. Burton (1947-2011) authored four crime novels published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne. Like Wier, Burton was a lifelong Texan who breathed the Texas lingo. Burton had been variously a cattleman, a political consultant, and a college history teacher. A cantankerous but generous man, he liked writing and he liked talking to his friends, especially George Wier.