Ann Williams

Major Works

  • Sam’s World (TimeTwist) (2010)
  • In The Cold Light of Day (1998)

Ann Williams: A Biography

by Leslie Denson (SHS)

Ann Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in  1949.  Her dad was the Superintendent of the Sanitary Laundry company, and her mother was a partner in the same business.  She has an older sister who was married when Williams was five years old, and she also as a brother.  Williams graduated from Mississippi University for Women in 1970 and then graduated from law school at New College in California in 1987. (Williams Interview)  She practiced law in California, and served on the city council as mayor of Pinole, Ca, which is near the San Francisco area. (In the Cold Light of Day)  Williams returned to Mississippi from California in 1994. (Hughes, Jay)

Williams wrote the book In the Cold Light of Day because she felt that it was a great tragedy that affected many people, and she wanted to help vindicate the victim, Gene Tate. (Williams Interview) She says, the murder  “…affected some people really deeply.  It was a huge case at that time, like the O.J. (Simpson) case.”   Ann Williams grew up on 12th North Street in Columbus, Mississippi. .  This was the neighbor hood where  the murder in which the book is about took place.  As a child Williams often played around the neighborhood with the children of the murder victim.  Williams felt that writing this book was difficult because it was a non-fiction piece of literature.  All of the trial script and other information came from transcripts, interview with people involved with the case, and public records. (Hughes)  The research took two and a half years to complete, and Williams finished  the book in the summer of 1997. (Williams Interview)

Ann Williams is now working on another book about a murder that took place in California.

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A Review of In the Cold Light of Day

In the Cold Light of Day by Ann Williams is a factual portrayal of the Gene Tate murder that tool place in Columbus, Mississippi.  Williams was very thorough in her research and that made the book all the better.  Due to her living in the town when the murder took place, Williams had a first hand account of how the murder affected the citizens.

Williams was able to tell the story of the gruesome murder of socialite Gene Tate from the perspective of many of the town people’s point of view.  The only problem with the writing of the book was that, even though John Mattox was convicted of the murder, Williams had to write only what was assumed to have happened by the police and the prosecutors.

Ann Williams’ style of writing made the book easy to read and very interesting.  She was able to take a horrific story and turn it into a story  that people of almost all ages would be able to enjoy.  The work put into getting all of the transcripts for the trial shows throughout the publication and makes it a bone-chilling work to read.  The parts of the novel written from the interviews that Williams conducted were well written and show how many of the citizens of the surrounding areas felt about the case.  The book had me enraptured just as much as the people of the day were with the murder.

After I finished reading the book,  I went to some of my family who live  around the Columbus area and asked them what more they knew about the murder.  The story was enthralling, unbelievable, and frightening yet it was completely true.

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A Telephone Interview with Ann Williams, 1998

by Leslie Denson (SHS)

1.     When and where were you born?

In Columbus, Mississippi, in 1949.

2.    Can you tell me about your family?

My father was superintendent of Sanitary Laundry in Columbus.  My mom was a partner in the same business.  I have an older sister who was married when Iwas five, and I have a brother.

3.    What did you do for college?

I graduated from the W (Mississippi University for Women) in 1970 and from law school at New College in California.

4.    What has your career been like so far?

I practiced law in California and was on the City Council in Pinole, CA, which is near San Francisco.

5.    What prompted you to write the book?

It was a great tragedy that affected many people.  I wanted to help vindicate the victim.

6.    How long did it take to write the book, and what was involved in writing it?

It was difficult because of its  being a non-fiction story.  The research took the longest and that was about two and a half years.  I was finished in the summer of 1997.

7.    What are your plans for the future?

I am now researching a murder case that took place in California.

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Related Websites


  • Hughes, Jay. “In the Cold Light of Day”. The Commercial Dispatch. December 7, 1997: 1a, 8a.
  • Williams, Ann. In the Cold Light of Day. Dust Cover. Jackson, MS:  LeFleur’s Bluff, 1998.
  • Williams, Ann. Telephone Interview. November 1998.

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