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McCrumb’s New Novel Enriches Greenbrier Ghost Legend

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The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

The Unquiet Grave
Sharyn McCrumb

Atria Books Hardcover,
ISBN 9781476772875,

Sharyn McCrumb, Author

Sharyn McCrumb

Audio interviewAuthorlink Audio Interview with Sharyn McCrumb

 Audio Length: 15 minutes

The century-old folktale of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost takes on a new reality in New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb’s novel, THE UNQUIET GRAVE (Atria Books Hardcover, ISBN 978476772875, September 2017).

In this audio interview, Sharyn tells Authorlink what compelled her to write the story, and what she discovered in her extensive research for the novel. 

Based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history, THE UNIQUE GRAVE is told in two time periods from two points of view.

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.

Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, THE UNQUIET GRAVE reveals new information about the Greenbrier Ghost and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner and slave owner; and the murder victim’s mother, 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.

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 LA 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.

Advance Praise for THE UNQUIET GRAVE

“McCrumb has a real knack for crafting full-bodied characters and using folklore to construct compelling plots.” –Booklist

“In this compelling story, McCrumb continues to relate the dynamic tales of Appalachia and its people.” –Library Journal

“Sharyn McCrumb understands the South, and her understanding and storytelling ability are evident in every page of this well-crafted novel. The Unquiet Grave will delight McCrumb’s many fans, but all lovers of the South, mysteries, and unusual crime stories will be in for a treat as well. Recommended.” –Historical Novels Review

“Unquiet indeed.” –Kirkus

Atria Books is an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation. Simon & Schuster is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats.