The Devil Amongst the Lawyers: A Ballad Novel

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers: A Ballad Novel

by Sharyn McCrumb
3.3 25

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Overview

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers: A Ballad Novel by Sharyn McCrumb

"Ms. McCrumb writes with quiet fire and maybe a little mountain magic. . . . She plucks the mysteries from people's lives and works these dark narrative threads into Appalachian legends older than the hills. Like every true storyteller, she has the Sight."—The New York Times Book Review

In 1935, a beautiful young schoolteacher is accused of murdering her coal-miner father in
a Virginia mountain community.

National journalists descend on Wise County, intent upon exonerating the defendant, and on stereotyping the mountain community to satisfy their Depression-era readers.
But local cub reporter Carl Jennings writes what he sees: an ordinary town and a defendant who is probably guilty.

The novel resonates with the present: an economic depression; a deadly Japanese earthquake; the rise of political fanatics; and a media culture turning news stories into soap operas for the diversion of the masses.

A literary tour de force, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers continues the Ballard saga by examining social issues that go well beyond the fate of one defendant. It is a testament to Sharyn McCrumb's lyrical and poetic writing about the mountain South.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429921206
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/22/2010
Series: Ballad Series , #8
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 231,615
File size: 370 KB

About the Author

Sharyn McCrumb is the author of The Ballad of Frankie Silver, She Walks These Hills, and many other award-winning novels. Her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. She was named a "Virginia Woman of History" for achievement in literature in 2008. She lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge, less than a hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790 in the Smoky Mountains that divide North Carolina and Tennessee.
SHARYN MCCRUMB is the 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 was named a “Virginia Woman of History” for Achievement in Literature in 2008. She lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge, less than a hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790 in the Smoky Mountains that divide North Carolina and Tennessee.

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The Devil Amongst the Lawyers (Ballad Series #8) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
mustlovetoread More than 1 year ago
The Devil Amongst the Lawyers Sharyn McCrumb The Devil Amongst the Lawyers is one of Sharyn McCrumb's best books yet. According to the acknowledgments in the book, it is a fictionalized version of the 1935 murder trial of Edith Maxwell, which took place in Wise County, Virginia. I was hooked on this story from page one. You follow some of the reporters traveling to Wise by way of Abingdon to cover the trial. The descriptions of Abingdon, the Martha Washington Inn, and the Barter Theater in 1935 are very interesting. They stay overnight in Abingdon, and then head on to Wise, VA. A young lady has been accused of killing her father because of a dispute over her curfew. The story unfolds of the life of the young lady and her family, and their life in Wise. This story was very entertaining and thought provoking. You follow along and learn what is going on as the reporters learn. The dialogue is easy to follow, and you can keep up with the characters and what is going on with them. The big city reporters describe the scene as a "back of beyond" place, a phrase from the book. Another reporter decides to tell the truth about what he sees. He ends up getting fired from his job for reporting the truth. Between following the trial, learning some of the history of Abingdon and Wise, and having some characters with the Sight, this book was a delight. I would recommend it to anyone who likes trials, history, suspense, or other Sharyn McCrumb books. I was left with one question while reading the book. When Nora Bonesteel was traveling to Wise, she encountered another woman on the train. Nora says to herself, "There wasn't any point in telling the woman something that she wouldn't believe anyhow. She would find out for herself soon enough." What did the lady find out when she got to Knoxville? It is never revealed. The side story of Henry, one of the reporters, is very touching. I cried at a couple of places. The descriptions of what he goes through, and how he got to where he was in the book, will touch your heart. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Devil Amongst the Lawyers is historical fiction based on the 1935 trial of Edith Maxwell in Wise County, Virginia. What I found so interesting about this novel is that the trial is just an afterthought. The real story lies in the journalists who come to cover it, some honestly and some not so honestly. Erma Morton is a beautiful, young schoolteacher accused of a hideous crime...the murder of her father, Pollock. Is she guilty or innocent? To McCrumb, it hardly matters, as we do not find out until the last few pages. To the journalists covering the case, this is a goldmine trial. A young girl "pretty enough to be in the pictures", living in the "backwards part of the country in them ther hills". Whether true or not, Henry Jernigan, Rose Hanelon, Shade Baker, and especially Luther Swann, will write what their editors want to see in the newspaper. Carl Jennings, on his first major assignment and the only one to report the truth, refuses to resort to writing stereotypes. The only way he can get ahead of the others is if he uses his young cousin, Nora, who has the gift of Sight. As I love historical fiction, I found this novel fascinating, but not as fascinating as it could have been. As we read the story from the points of view of the major characters, the novel at times can seem hurky-jerky. It is not seamless as a Picoult novel might be. However, McCrumb should be commended for writing about a trial in the Depression-era United States that is not well-known. MY RATING - 4/5 To see my rating scale and other reviews, please check out my blog: http://www.1776books.blogspot.com.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1935, the country remains in the Great depression, but to schoolteacher Erma Morton the economy is the least of her worries. The Pound, Virginia police arrested her for the murder of her father; her mom was also taken in by the cops, but let go as they decide to prosecute Erma only. The national papers send reporters and photographers to cover the story while from Tennessee comes the Johnson City Sleuth teenage reporter Carl Jenkins. The big shot journalists make it seem as if the townsfolk were against Erma because she is pretty, charming and educated. They write their reports so it reads the way they believe the public (and Mr. Hearst who has cut a deal with the brother of the accused) would want to picture the case. Carl knows he cannot compete in their league so he sends for his twelve years old cousin Nora Bonesteel, who has the "sight", to see if she can give him the true story. Based on a true media feeding frenzy, this is a timely super historical mystery in which the reporting supersedes the case. Sharyn McCrumb makes a case that nothing really has changed except the medium used by the journalists who still slant and cherry pick what they report; in this trial of the beautiful attractive heroine who is persecuted by the ignorant locals. Carl lacks confidence and experience so he depends on Nora in her youngest appearance (see The Songcatcher and Ghost Riders). Readers will enjoy this early insightful Ballad. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I missed my Hamlin TN friends. After I could not get into this book, i bought it on audio. Hoping to get into it on a long car trip, i still was unable tofinish it. How many more books do we have to hear about that poor elephant in?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very thin who-dunnit for Sharyn McCrumb. For the most part, it's just a polemic against reporters/authors that misrepresented the truth back in the day. I can't tell you how tired you'll be of all the references to Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the 1908 novel (and eventual film) that supposedly cemented in people's minds the image of a backward, clannish Appalachia. But Ms. McCrumb is complaining a century too late, and rather than just giving a picture of how things "used" to be, it feels like she's hitting anger bullet points. And hitting them over and over. Frankly, this book lacks not only a plot, but a strong protagonist. Or any protagonist, really. It relies on a series of characters, each one as weak and unappealing as the next. I wondered at times if the author even enjoyed writing this book, or if she was simply teaching her publisher a lesson about requesting another of her popular Ballad series. It certainly taught this fan a lesson. And the plot, based on the 1935 Edith Maxwell trial, is a very shaky platform on which to hang several hundred pages of griping about the unfair reporting practices of yesteryear. If you loved her other ballad books, do not think that this one will satisfy. This is dry as dust.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story. Light reading.
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