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From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes this 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. Eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, Boozer encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. In his forty-year career, 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, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died. A month after the funeral, determined to get justice for her daughter, Mary Jane informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered.
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.
About the Author
Sharyn McCrumb is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad novels. She has received numerous honors for her work, including the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature, the AWA Book of the Year, and Notable Books in both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. She was also named a Virginia Woman of History for Achievement in Literature. She lives and writes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, fewer than one hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790.
“McCrumb hears voices from the grave and kindly passes their messages along.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Based on one of the most incredible ghost stories in American folklore, The Unquiet Grave is a fascinating historical fiction novel you won't be able to put down.”
“Sharyn McCrumb understands the South, and her understanding and storytelling ability are evident in every page of this well-crafted novel.”
— Historical Novel Society
"In this compelling story, McCrumb continues to relate the dynamic tales of Appalachia and its people."
— Library Journal
“McCrumb has a real knack for crafting full-bodied characters and using folklore to construct compelling plots.”
"Woven with legend and carefully handcrafted as only McCrumb can accomplish. The Greenbrier Ghost has once again risen to claim its rightful place among America’s best ghost stories and the most rare—the ones that are actually true."
— Sherri Brake, author of The Haunted History of the West Virginia Penitentiary
“McCrumb has a distinctive gift for creating fascinating, complex characters in her novels, as well as remarkable skill for illustrating the mountain folklore of Southern Appalachia.”
— News Tribune
“McCrumb has provided a masterful account of a mother’s fight for justice for her murdered daughter. Once again, she demonstrated why she’s looked on as one of the South’s finest writers.”
— Charleston Gazette-Mail
“Touching on mental illness, race and superstition, The Unquiet Grave is not only an informative read, but one that never loses sight of its story—a chilly retelling of an Appalachian legend finely resurrected under McCrumb’s pen.”
— Mountain Times