Book jacket
The unquiet grave : a novel

Book

2017
"From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes a finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history--the case of the Greenbrier Ghost. Lakin, West Virginia, 1930. Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P. D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Boozer is eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, and encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. Gardner's most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride--a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost. Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897. Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother's misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence from the newlyweds, riders come to the Heasters' place to tell them that Zona has died from a fall, attributed to a recent illness. Mary Jane is determined to get justice for her daughter. A month after the funeral, she informs the county prosecutor that Zona's ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered. An autopsy, ordered by the reluctant prosecutor, confirms her claim. The Greenbrier Ghost is renowned in American folklore, but Sharyn McCrumb is the first author to look beneath the legend to unearth the facts. Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner, who nevertheless had owned slaves; and the mother of the murdered woman, who doggedly sticks to her ghost story--all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century, with his own tragedies yet to come. With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore, illuminating the story's fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb's place among the finest Southern writers at work today"-- Provided by publisher.
Berry, Wendell, 1934- — For those drawn to McCrumb's descriptions of the Appalachians and the importance of land in her characters' lives, Berry is an excellent match. Both look at the clash of contemporary society and traditional rural culture. Berry writes with care and affection of the people of his fictional community in Kentucky. -- Krista Biggs
DePoy, Phillip — These authors write lyrically written, atmospheric mystery novels set in the Appalachian Mountains. The solving of the crime often receives less attention than the complex characterization, lush descriptions, and vivid portraits of Southern culture and lore. -- Derek Keyser
Rash, Ron, 1953- — A reverence for Appalachia and a respect for its past and present is apparent in the fiction of Ron Rash and the Ballad novels of Sharyn McCrumb. With an unflinching look at the good and bad of human nature, both authors create memorable characters and evocative mountain settings. -- Jessica Zellers
Chappell, Fred, 1936- — Fred Chappell is another writer whose work explores the lives of mountain people in North Carolina. With a clear style and memorable characters, Chappell is a good possibility for those who enjoy McCrumb's story-telling. Chappell's work, like McCrumb's, places a high value on story and song as shaping forces in the lives of his characters. -- Krista Biggs
Woodrell, Daniel — Although Daniel Woodrell's writing is more sparse, bleak, and elegant than Sharyn McCrumb's, both authors write atmospheric, vividly detailed, and unflinching portraits of crime and desperation in rural mountain communities. Though these authors write mysteries, intimate character detail and lush descriptions often take precedence over the investigations. -- Derek Keyser
Hillerman, Tony — Both authors create a strong sense of place and emphasize the importance of traditional ways to contemporary life. Although Hillerman's police procedurals are set in the Southwest and feature Native American culture, he writes effectively about the intersection of myth and reality. -- Krista Biggs
Grabien, Deborah — A Mystery series that McCrumb fans might want to look at is Deborah Grabien's English Ballad Mysteries. In each, the Mystery to be solved is less important than the development of the characters. Grabien deftly mixes ghosts and music in a blend that should appeal to those who are interested in the ballads aspect of McCrumb's novels. -- Krista Biggs
Peters, Elizabeth, 1927-2013 — Readers who enjoy McCrumb's Elizabeth MacPherson mysteries may want to try Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. Although set in the Victorian-Edwardian period, these stories feature a strong female lead (in this case an archaeologist), interesting settings, and a mixture of humor and suspense. -- Krista Biggs
Lanier, Virginia, 1930-2003 — These authors' works are Atmospheric, and they share: the genre 'Mysteries' and the subject 'Sheriffs'.
Morgan, Robert, 1944- — These authors' works are Homespun and Atmospheric, and they share: the genre 'Southern fiction' and the subject 'Appalachian Region, Southern'.
McManus, Patrick F. — These authors' works are Homespun, and they share: the genre 'Mysteries' and the subject 'Sheriffs'.
Johnson, Craig, 1961- — These authors' works are Compelling, and they share: the genre 'Mysteries' and the subjects 'Sheriffs' and 'Murder'.

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