The Unquiet Grave

The Unquiet Grave

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"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 Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the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"--
Publisher: New York, New York : Atria Books, ©2017.
ISBN: 9781476772875
Characteristics: 358 pages ;,24 cm.


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May 16, 2018

I chose this one more for the time and place than for the actual crime, but it still proved to be quite an interesting story. From the beginning I was in the mother's court, wanting to cry out, "Don't marry him!" Historical details were interesting and enlightening.

kat_miller Mar 14, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully written book by Sharyn McCrumb. She and her team did in depth historical research about the characters who were all real people. This is a great read about an interesting time in American history.

Mar 10, 2018

Suspenseful story, interesting characters, and well-crafted prose. The author's knowledge of the location and extensive historical research added depth without overuse of description and detail. I read it in less than 24 hours!

Dec 08, 2017

Not as interesting as many of her earlier works, this one bogs down in the side-story of a lawyer who was involved in the murder case and is now installed in a mental institution. The dialogue between him and his doctor meanders all over the place and detracts from the main story of Zona's murder and her mother's attempt to find justice. The story is weakened greatly by the two stories running in alternating chapters, in my opinion.

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