The Devil Amongst the Lawyers
Dunne, Jun 22 2010, $24.95
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.