From New York Times best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb comes a finely wrought novel set in 19th-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 19th-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 Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the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.
I am a huge fan of Sharyn McCrumbs work! I especially love these kinds of stories. The only complaint is that you can't stop reading or listening to them & then you've finished & have to wait a year or two before the next one!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I don't know if it was the poor narration or the content, but I had a terrible time sticking with the lawyer's story line. The mama was clear, definitely country, and pure Mccrumb. That said, it was a good story, just maybe better off read than listened to.
I am an avid reader of Sharon McCrumb. She delivers a story in a manner that holds interest and lends suspense. As is the usual, I am.left impatient for the next great book!
McCrumb's books always are well-researched, and she's a wonderful storyteller, so I was looking forward to hearing (instead of reading) this. However, the readers, especially the male narrator, are flat. The female voice ends every sentence in a sigh/gasp. The male is simply reading, making it hard to discern which character is speaking, and he has the task of reading different characters. (The female reads only one character's part, which is in the first person, so it was easier to follow the story.) This experience makes me appreciate anew the readers who bring characters alive, especially those readers who have some acting background. I also know now to listen to to the samples before purchasing.
Another Story brought to life by Sharyn McCrumb. I look forward to her next book already. The narrators did a good job too.
This was an interesting story. The female side was good the male narrator was awful. Too bad. It could have been even better.