Met Her on the Mountain: A Forty-Year Quest to Solve the Appalachian Cold-Case Murder of Nancy Morgan

Met Her on the Mountain: A Forty-Year Quest to Solve the Appalachian Cold-Case Murder of Nancy Morgan

3.5 4
by Mark I. Pinsky
     
 

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Madison County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is a place of ear-popping drives and breathtaking views.

It is also where federal antipoverty worker Nancy Dean Morgan was found naked, hogtied, and strangled in the backseat of her car in June 1970.

An inept investigation involving local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies failed to find a

Overview

Madison County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is a place of ear-popping drives and breathtaking views.

It is also where federal antipoverty worker Nancy Dean Morgan was found naked, hogtied, and strangled in the backseat of her car in June 1970.

An inept investigation involving local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies failed to find a clear explanation of the motive or events of her murder. The case was left unsolved. Years later, after most of the material evidence had been lost or mishandled, one of Nancy's fellow VISTA workers—the last person known to have seen her alive—became the prime suspect, based on the testimony of one of the town's most notorious resident criminals. Did he kill Nancy, or was he another victim of the corrupt local political machine and its adherence to "mountain justice"?

Met Her on the Mountain: A Forty-Year Quest to Solve the Appalachian Cold-Case Murder of Nancy Morgan is a tangled tale of rural noir. Author Mark Pinsky was profoundly struck by Nancy's story as a college student in North Carolina in 1970. Here, Pinsky presents the evolution of his investigation and also delves into the brutal history of Madison County, the site of a Civil War massacre that earned it the sobriquet "Bloody Madison." Met Her on the Mountain is a stirring mix of true crime, North Carolina political history, and one man's devotion to finding the truth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This compulsively page-turning true crime narrative has it all: smart prose, a now-obscure unsolved murder that was notorious at the time, and an investigative journalist trying to pick up the trail. In 1970, the nude and hog-tied body of Nancy Morgan was found in a car in a Madison County, N.C., forest after she’d gone missing. Morgan had been working for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in the area for under a year, in an idealistic attempt to help people in the impoverished area. The initial police investigation was “a study in confusion and barely controlled jurisdictional chaos,” and local corruption (the county’s Democratic boss was said to have made Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley look like Bambi) only made matters worse. Fourteen years passed before an arrest was made, but the prime evidence came from a career criminal and notorious liar. Regarding the victim as a kindred spirit, former Los Angeles Times staff writer Pinsky followed the story from the start (he was a college student in the area at the time of the murder), and many readers will be convinced that his dogged investigation has at last uncovered the truth. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Oct.)
Library Journal
10/01/2013
Journalist and religion writer Pinsky (The Gospel According to the Simpsons) recounts the long history of his investigation into the unsolved 1970 murder of antipoverty worker Nancy Morgan in rural Madison County, NC, and his theory regarding who was responsible. Given that he faced a society, culture, and local government operating under "mountain justice" and a state government unwilling to risk challenging its own stated theory, it's not surprising that the author's "quest" spanned 40 years. That said, the reader cannot help wondering if he could have concluded it sooner by investigating at a less casual pace—Pinsky limited himself to two weeks of investigation per year, later one week per year. His characterization of the people involved, from lawmen to the victim's neighbors to suspects, and his description of everyday life in Madison County, are vivid—even unpleasantly so, as the reader is exposed to the county's less savory denizens. Pinsky refers interested readers to many fiction and nonfiction works about Madison County and North Carolina and cites press coverage of the Morgan case and related trials. VERDICT Inasmuch as this is a story of Pinsky's own investigation, it is likely to be unique in any collection and of interest to aficionados of cold cases and/or North Carolina political history.—Ricardo Laskaris, York Univ. Lib., Toronto
<i>Publishers Weekly</i> - Pick of the Week Starred Review
"This compulsively page-turning true crime narrative has it all: smart prose, a now-obscure unsolved murder that was notorious at the time, and an investigative journalist trying to pick up the trail. Many readers will be convinced that his dogged investigation has at last uncovered the truth."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780895876119
Publisher:
Blair, John F. Publisher
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,249,274
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel, Mark Pinsky holds degrees from Duke University and Columbia University. As an investigative journalist specializing in capital murder cases around the Southeast, he has written for the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Though this is his first true-crime work, he has previously published four religion-oriented books, including The Gospel According to the Simpsons. He resides in Maitland, Florida.

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Met Her on the Mountain: A Forty-Year Quest to Solve the Appalachian Cold-Case Murder of Nancy Morgan 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
BookAddictFL More than 1 year ago
This book is not what I was expecting. I think the title, and to an extent the description, is misleading. Much of the content here covers the Appalachian culture and the overall corruption of a handful of people running the towns. Because of this, the tone of the book is more suited to a sociological study of the area and its people than it is to a true crime story.  Pinksy's writing style is relaxed and conversational. He gives us an inside view of Madison County, easily transporting us to that place and time. His descriptions of the area and the people are vivid. I felt like I understood what life was like in this part of the Appalachian Mountains from the 1960s through the 1980s.  We're given a lot of back story on the area, which is more about understanding the culture than the crime itself. For instance, Pinsky provides quite a bit of information on the Civil War and how the people were divided in their loyalties. This was interesting, though largely irrelevant to Nancy Morgan's murder.  As for the crime itself, we're given little information on the original investigation. We're told, almost in passing, that evidence was lost or perhaps never collected. We're not told who was questioned and/or to what extent. Based on the information provided, I'm not even sure there was any sort of investigation when Nancy Morgan was first murdered. The last third of the book has more of a true crime feel, though this takes place decades after the murder when Pinsky starts his own investigation. He shares his conversations with local people who'd known Nancy, investigators, and suspects. Again, this is all based on Pinsky's own investigation. The direction law enforcement took during this time is sometimes unclear and definitely not the focus. If you're looking for a gritty, detailed, true crime story, this is not that book. If you're looking to immerse yourself in the closed culture within the Appalachian Mountains, while learning about a murdered young woman volunteering there, this is definitely worth your time. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written book. Author appears to have solved a long forgotten mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great mystery. Good non fiction crime book. I found it very interesting.