The May 1927 issue of True Detective magazine dealt with the shooting of Tommy Evans and subsequent investigation of the case in the Old 23rd District of Henry County, Tennessee.
The True Detective article read in part, "They told me of the existence of a 'whiskey ring,' in which it was estimated that seventy-five percent of the population ... was alleged to have been engaged in this illicit whiskey business. And it was contended that (Tommy Evans), a respectable and law-abiding citizen, member of the minority faction in the moonshine domain, had openly defied the moonshiners – had became a crusader against them – and died a martyr to the cause of his convictions. Thus the motive for the assassination of (Evans) was apparent."
The magazine article quoted a Paris, Tenn., minister, J.H. Buchanan, as saying that, "There are twelve men in this immediate section ready to stand for 'four-square for the right,' and there are twenty-five men over there, and I might be able to name them, who are banded together to protect and promulgate the liquor interests. The remaining citizens in this district are in the middle of the road – either in sympathy with the devil's gang, or they lack the courage to say where they stand."
It was amid such a climate that this book is set. South of the Mouth of Sandy focuses on the Evans family that settled near the confluence of the Big Sandy and Tennessee rivers during the middle part of the 19th century. It traces the ancestry of Tommy Evans and tells the story of his death on a dirt road and the trial of his killer.