Author to sign books about experiences as undercover cop

Staff Writer

Merle Temple, author of five books inspired by his experience in law enforcement, will be at the Book Mart & Cafe this afternoon from 1-5:30 p.m. signing all five books, but particularly his newest, "Blood On The Ground: Living and Dying in Nod" and "Deputy: Once Upon A Time in Mississippi."

"Deputy" is currently being used by Mississippi State University in a history class and in many high schools around the country, including one in Florida that uses it as a companion read to "To Kill A Mockingbird."

In the letter asking to use "Deputy" to develop a study guide, Rhonda Farbrizi, English professor at Cuyahoga College described "Deputy": 'It beautifully describes the intersection of morality, spirituality, race, crime, greed, and history. It's poetic and beautifully written. It illuminates and enlightens.'

Another book of Temple's, "A Ghostly Shade of Pale" was the contemporary novel and required reading at Itawamba Community College, one of the community colleges that sends many students to MSU.

"The books, written as fiction but drawn from my life, are now under contract in Hollywood," Temple said.

The TV show Criminal Minds read one of Temple's manuscripts and invited him to Hollywood to sign for their cast and meet producers.

Temple also worked for the FBI in Washington.

"Deputy," "Blood On The Ground," and "A Ghostly Shade of Pale" are all drawn from his time in law enforcement just after he left college at the end of 1971.

Temple said during an 18-month period in 1971 and 1972, there were an average of five bombings a day in America.

"Not all were large bombs, but the bombing was consistent. My sheriff's home was bombed because he wouldn't take payoffs, and his daughter's pet monkey was burned alive," he said.

Temple was an agent in the new Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and a captain during the first war on drugs.

"It was an eyeopener for a naive young guy. I was held hostage by drug dealers while they debated where to bury my body, lured out to be killed by contract killers, and my men and I were ambushed in a terrible gun battle in Columbus in 1976," he said.

In another instance, while working undercover in Starkville, he was approached by a drug dealer as he left a movie.

"He said, 'You're that guy everyone is talking about, the undercover agent from Jackson.' He pushed up against me and said, 'You're that narc, aren't you?,' " Temple said.

"I said, 'Yes, I'm him. I came up here from Jackson especially to bust you.' He broke out laughing and said, 'That's the one thing you could have said to prove to me you're not him,' " Temple added.

In “Blood On The Ground,” he shows how seeds were sown then by "radical groups and how we are reaping the whirlwind now."

Schools choose to use Temple's books every day and he has talked with thousands of students who have read the books in their classes.

His youngest reader is 10 years old.

"We've got a lot of readers down there and a lot of new friends and old friends too and I would just love to see them. I catch up with a lot of people at book signings some that I hadn't seen in 35-40 years or more," Temple said.

Temple anticipates meeting new readers and reuniting with regulars at the book signing.