In 1934 all the national publications sent their star reporters to remote Virginia to cover the trial of Erma Morton: a beautiful 21-year-old mountain girl with a teaching degree, accused of murdering her father – a drunken tyrant of a man.
Four seasoned journalists descend upon the small town – nothing sells papers better than a wronged woman on trial, or descriptions of “backwards” mountain life. Yet instead of rundown shacks and horse-drawn buggies, they found gas stations and coal company executives…but the truth can always be manipulated to suit the audience.
Except that among them is Carl Jennings, an 18-year-old novice journalist from Tennessee who accurately reports on the trial and the citizens of the town. So when their articles conflict, Carl is condemned for perjury, while the other journalists sell Erma Morton’s verdict to the highest bidder. Soon, it is not the actual murder that is of interest, but the vultures attracted to the death. In the midst of all this, Carl continues to search for the truth, relying on his younger cousin, Nora – gifted with the “sight” – for help.
A stunning return to the lands, ballads, and characters upon which she made her name, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers is a testament to Sharyn McCrumb’s lyrical and poetic writing.
I'm a fan of Ms McCrumb but struggled to get through this one. too much time spent describing the reporters lives, not enough about the actual murder.
Reading about the Southwest Virginia of 80 years ago was very meaningful, especially the idea that people there weren't very different from other Americans. But the narrator says "Appalayshun," so the narration seems to do to the book what the "big-city reporters" did to the original account of the trial. Sharyn McCrumb should read her own books, or someone from this area should read them.
What would have made The Devil Amongst the Lawyers better?
Suspense, interesting characters
Has The Devil Amongst the Lawyers turned you off from other books in this genre?
No, not at all.
What does Luke Daniels bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Stilted, stereotypical accents.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Background on the work of reporters in the 1930s.
Any additional comments?
Rather than developing interesting, driven characters and a spooky, evocative setting as she does in the other ballad series books, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers is a research dump. It contains meticulous details of setting and background on traveling journalists and Japan in the middle part of the last century. I am starting the second part of the audiobook and I have yet to identify with a character. The book is also so far lacking in unanswered questions that would provide suspense for the reader.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful