Coming to New Dominion Bookshop:
Sharyn McCrumb will read from her new novel,
The Devil Amongst the Lawyers
Wednesday, June 30 at 12:15 PM
New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb returns to her Appalachian Ballad series after an eight-year hiatus with her new novel, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers. Featuring McCrumb’s classic storytelling, the hill towns her readers have come to love, and the return of her most beloved character, Nora Bonesteel, the novel is certain to delight her legion of fans, who have been eagerly awaiting the return of her hugely popular Ballad series.
In 1935 all the national publications send their star reporters to remote Virginia to cover the trial of Erma Morton: a beautiful twenty-one-year-old mountain girl with a teaching degree, accused of murdering her father—a drunken tyrant of a man. 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, reporters find gas stations and coal company executives…but the truth can always be manipulated to suit the audience. Among the journalists are: Henry Jernigan, the Philadelphia aristocrat driven by the Depression into a job as a yellow dog journalist; Shade Baker, a cynic from the Iowa prairie, who’s a specialist in manipulating the photographs he takes for his newspaper; Rose Hanelon, the sob sister, who celebrates the beautiful and innocent victim in each story; and Luster Swann, a tabloid reporter who thinks every female defendant is a scheming Jezebel. Each filters the Morton case through their own prejudices, and shapes it to fit the needs of their readership.
But also covering the trial is Carl Jennings, an eighteen-year-old novice journalist from Tennessee, who realizes that these seasoned journalists are more interested in perpetuating the myths of “mountain” life than reporting the truth. Determined to set the story straight, he files accurate reports on the proceedings and the citizens of the town, enraging his editors who question why his accounts differ from those of the well-known, big city reporters. Meanwhile, Erma’s brother, Harley, sells the rights to her story to the highest bidder—a national newspaper syndicate. Although he claims the money will help pay for her defense, Harley seems more interested in what can be gained from his sister’s celebrity than securing her freedom. Soon, everyone in this small town has an opinion about the beautiful young Erma’s guilt or innocence, and the trial consumes them. In the midst of all this, Carl continues to search for the truth, but because of Harley’s deal with the syndicate, is not permitted to interview Erma. As a last resort, Carl sends for his younger cousin, Nora, who is gifted with the “sight”. If Nora can use her gift to determine what really happened the night of the murder, Carl can make a name for himself in the newspaper world and perhaps even change the outcome of the trial.
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. Inspired by the real-life 1935 murder trial of a young woman in Wise County, Virginia, the novel is written with an extraordinary sense of time and place and is filled with unforgettable characters, rich historical detail, and page-turning suspense that will keep readers wondering about Erma’s guilt or innocence until the very end.
About the Author
Sharyn McCrumb is the bestselling author of The Rosewood Casket, She Walks These Hills, and many other acclaimed novels. Her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. She lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains.