Sharyn McCrumb is an acclaimed author whose works frequently weave together the rich narratives of Appalachia with the intricate tapestry of its folklore, history, and culture. She explores themes that delve into the complex human experiences of this unique region, often highlighting its traditions and the mysteries overlaying its landscape. Throughout her prolific writing career, McCrumb has penned a considerable number of books, cementing her reputation as a distinguished storyteller with a keen insight into the Appalachian way of life.
Sharyn McCrumb Books in Order
- The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (Ballad, #2)
- The Ballad of Frankie Silver (Ballad, #5)
- She Walks These Hills (Ballad, #3)
- The Rosewood Casket (Ballad, #4)
- If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O (Ballad, #1)
- The Songcatcher (Ballad, #6)
- The Ballad of Tom Dooley (Ballad, #9)
- The Unquiet Grave (Ballad, #12)
- Bimbos of the Death Sun (Jay Omega, #1)
- If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him… (Elizabeth MacPherson #8)
Overview of Sharyn McCrumb Books in Order
The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (Ballad, #2)
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The Ballad of Frankie Silver (Ballad, #5)
“The Ballad of Frankie Silver” is the fifth book in the Ballad series by Sharyn McCrumb. The story weaves together two historical periods through the mystery genre, contrasting the events of an 1833 murder with a similar case in the present day. In 1833, Frankie Silver, a young Appalachian woman, was charged with the brutal ax murder of her husband, Charlie.
As Sheriff Spencer Arrowood prepares for an execution of a convicted murderer in the modern-day plot, he is haunted by the parallels of Frankie Silver’s case. The historical narrative reveals the harsh realities of frontier justice and the societal constraints imposed on women at the time. Frankie’s story is shrouded in folklore and mystery, and as the Sheriff delves deeper into the past, he finds unsettling connections and questions about justice, truth, and the possible miscarriage of justice in Frankie’s execution.
The novel not only delves into the specifics of Silver’s trial and subsequent fate but also reflects on broader themes such as the nature of guilt and innocence, storytelling and memory, and the fallibility of the legal system. Sharyn McCrumb’s meticulous research and lyrical storytelling offer a poignant look at American history and folklore while engaging readers in a suspenseful tale that blurs the lines between past and present, fact and fiction.
She Walks These Hills (Ballad, #3)
“She Walks These Hills” by Sharyn McCrumb is part of her acclaimed Ballad series, which combines mystery with rich Appalachian folklore and history. The narrative weaves together several storylines that span different timelines. At its core, it’s about the haunting of the past and the ways in which it shapes the present.
The novel features an escaped convict named Harm Sorley who’s trying to make his way back home through the hills of East Tennessee. Unbeknownst to him, he is following an old trail that has a ghostly history. Parallel to his journey is the story of Katie Wyler, a woman who was kidnapped by the Shawnee two hundred years earlier. The subplot revolves around her escape and attempt to find her way back home, creating a historical backdrop that mirrors Harm’s present-day escape.
In another thread, the tale focuses on a history professor named Jeremy Cobb, who is obsessed with the story of Katie Wyler. He decides to recreate her escape and journey through the Appalachian terrain. All these narratives are interlaced by local historian Nora Bonesteel, who has the gift of ‘the Sight,’ allowing her to foresee events and sense the spirits that are said to walk the hills. As these characters navigate their individual quests, their stories interconnect, each one laced with suspense, historical detail, and the supernatural folklore of Appalachia.
The Rosewood Casket (Ballad, #4)
“The Rosewood Casket” by Sharyn McCrumb is a novel that combines elements of mystery, historical narrative, and Appalachian folklore. Set in the mountains of Tennessee, the story delves into the lives of the Arrowood family as they confront their past and come to terms with impending changes. At the center of the plot is the family patriarch, Randall Stargill, who is on his deathbed. He has four sons who return home to the family farm to confront not only their father’s mortality but also the legacy he is leaving behind.
As preparations for Randall’s death unfold, the family discovers an unfinished rosewood casket, which serves as a symbol of unresolved family issues and secrets. The sons grapple with their shared history and individual troubles, reflecting on their relationships with their father and among themselves. The casket brings them together, forcing them to address the estrangement and hurt that has existed within their family. Furthermore, the narrative weaves in the tale of a young Native American woman from the past, whose life is mysteriously linked to the Stargills and the land they live on.
Throughout the book, McCrumb paints a vivid picture of Appalachian life, blending the present with stories of the past. Her writing is rich with regional folklore and explores themes of inheritance, redemption, and the enduring bonds of family. She carefully constructs her characters, allowing their personal stories to reflect the greater changes that are happening in the region. In “The Rosewood Casket,” McCrumb not only tells an engaging tale but also preserves the cultural essence of Appalachia, marking this novel as a poignant piece in her Ballad series.
If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O (Ballad, #1)
“If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O” is the first book in the Ballad series written by Sharyn McCrumb, an American author well-known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, which are set in the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia and interweave the region’s folklore with modern mysteries.
In this book, the story takes place in the small town of Hamelin, Tennessee, where former folk singer Peggy Muryan moves to find peace and quiet. However, her arrival coincides with a series of unsettling events that disturb the tranquility of the town. As Peggy receives a disturbingly threatening note, it becomes clear that someone does not want her there. The plot thickens when a high school girl goes missing, and the town’s residents, with their distinct personalities and backgrounds, become both suspects and potential victims.
The protagonist and local sheriff, Spencer Arrowood, must unravel the mystery while dealing with his own personal struggles and the weight of the town’s history. Sharyn McCrumb weaves together the contemporary mystery with flashbacks from the past and traditional folk songs, providing depth to the narrative and exploring themes of memory, loss, and the power of music. As Arrowood digs into the secrets of the townspeople and Peggy’s past, the suspense builds to a revealing finale that ties the present to the haunting echoes of the town’s history.
The Songcatcher (Ballad, #6)
The Songcatcher is a novel by Sharyn McCrumb that intertwines historical fiction with a contemporary narrative, weaving together the story of a family’s musical heritage with a mystery. The story follows the lineage of a Scots-Irish immigrant, Malinda Blalock, and a song she brought over from Scotland to the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th century. This song, which has been passed down through generations, serves as a thread connecting the past to the present.
In the narrative, the song’s journey is traced from the 18th century through various family members, experiencing the transformations of the Appalachian culture and witnessing key historical events. As the song passes from person to person, it undergoes changes but still retains its core melody and theme, symbolizing the resilience and continuity of tradition. Each generation’s story adds another layer to the melody’s rich history and showcases the evolution of the Appalachian people and their culture.
The contemporary aspect of the book involves a musicologist, Folksong collector Lark McCourry, who is determined to trace and preserve her family’s musical heritage. She undertakes a quest to find the original version of the song brought over by her ancestor, which leads her to delve into her family’s past and uncover personal and historical secrets. The Songcatcher is an evocative tale of heritage, music, and the bonds of family that echoes across centuries.
The Ballad of Tom Dooley (Ballad, #9)
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The Unquiet Grave (Ballad, #12)
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Bimbos of the Death Sun (Jay Omega, #1)
“Bimbos of the Death Sun” is a murder mystery novel by Sharyn McCrumb, the first in the Jay Omega series. Set within the context of a science fiction convention, the story focuses on Jay Omega, a mild-mannered engineering professor who has written a serious scientific treatise that has been misconstrued and published as a lurid science fiction novel. He is a reluctant attendee at the convention, initially participating to promote his book titled “Bimbos of the Death Sun.”
During the convention, Omega becomes an amateur detective when a famous and particularly despised fantasy author, Appin Dungannon, is murdered with a weapon seemingly straight out of a sci-fi universe. The setting of the convention, with its costumed attendees and eccentric ambiance, adds a quirky and humorous backdrop to the murder investigation. Jay Omega, along with his fellow academic and girlfriend, Dr. Marion Farley, takes on the challenge of navigating through the motley crew of suspects, including hardcore fans, aspiring writers, and fantasy enthusiasts, all while the convention continues with its bizarre activities.
As the investigation unfolds, Omega and Farley find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, encountering various peculiar and comedic situations that satirize the world of science fiction fandom and conventions. McCrumb’s novel cleverly mixes the traditional elements of a murder mystery with the idiosyncratic culture of sci-fi fans, resulting in a unique and entertaining story that combines wit with a critical look at fandom and the nature of celebrity within niche communities. The novel is known for its sharp humor, engaging plot, and its playful yet respectful depiction of the sci-fi community.
If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him… (Elizabeth MacPherson #8)
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About Sharyn McCrumb
Sharyn McCrumb, a distinguished author celebrated for her Southern pedigree, has earned acclaim with her “Ballad” series set in Appalachia. Her works, such as the New York Times bestsellers The Ballad of Tom Dooley and The Ballad of Frankie Silver—along with The Songcatcher—have captivated a wide audience. Her novel Ghost Riders garnered the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society as well as the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Books. Look forward to her meticulously crafted novel, The Unquiet Grave—focused on the Greenbrier Ghost of West Virginia—set for publication in September by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster.
Honored as a Virginia Woman of History by the Library of Virginia and a Woman of the Arts by the Daughters of the American Revolution, McCrumb’s contributions to literature were further recognized in 2014 with the Mary Hobson Prize for Arts & Letters. Her novels have appeared on notable lists such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Beyond her writing, McCrumb is active in literary communities, sharing her expertise at workshops in cities like Paris, serving as writer-in-residence at institutions like King University in Tennessee and the Chautauqua Institute in New York, and engaging audiences at various events across the United States.
The works of Sharyn McCrumb offer a tapestry of narratives that elucidate the complexities of Appalachian culture and the human condition. Through her meticulously ordered books, which should be read sequentially to grasp the intricate evolution of her characters and settings, McCrumb provides astute commentaries on themes such as the persistence of tradition, societal change, and the quest for justice. Her novels often reflect a deep ideological commitment to exploring the significance of heritage and memory, while simultaneously addressing contemporary issues. McCrumb’s storytelling is not merely for entertainment; it prods readers to consider their own place in the continuum of history and the ways in which past and present intertwine, subtly imparting lessons on empathy, resilience, and the enduring power of the human spirit to navigate the rugged landscape of life’s challenges.
FAQs about author Sharyn McCrumb
Sharyn McCrumb is an American author of Appalachian “Ballad” novels, among other works. Below you can find answers to some frequently asked questions about her. If you have specific questions, please ask, and I’ll do my best to provide accurate and updated information.
1. Who is Sharyn McCrumb?
Sharyn McCrumb is a contemporary American writer widely recognized for her Appalachian “Ballad” series, which includes books like “The Ballad of Frankie Silver” and “She Walks These Hills”. She is known for incorporating historical and cultural themes into her fiction.
2. What kind of books does Sharyn McCrumb write?
Sharyn McCrumb writes mystery and historical fiction novels, often set in the Appalachian region. She blends the region’s history, folklore, and contemporary issues into her stories.
3. Has Sharyn McCrumb won any awards for her writing?
Yes, Sharyn McCrumb has received several awards, including the Edgar Award, the Agatha Award, and the Macavity Award for her outstanding contributions to the mystery genre.
4. What is the “Ballad” series about?
The “Ballad” series by Sharyn McCrumb is a set of novels that are interconnected by their setting in the Appalachian Mountains and by their focus on the region’s tradition, culture, and history. Each book typically stands on its own, but they share a common theme of exploring the ballad traditions of Appalachia.
5. Where can I find books written by Sharyn McCrumb?
Sharyn McCrumb’s books are widely available. They can be found at bookstores, online retailers, and through various digital and audiobook platforms.
6. Is Sharyn McCrumb active on social media or does she have a website for fans?
Sharyn McCrumb has been active on social media in the past, and she has an official website where readers can find more information about her work, upcoming projects, and events. You can check for her latest updates by visiting her official site.
7. What is Sharyn McCrumb’s writing process like?
While specific details about Sharyn McCrumb’s writing process are not universally documented, many authors in her genre conduct extensive research and are often inspired by real historical events or local folklore. Sharyn McCrumb is known for her in-depth exploration of Appalachian culture, which suggests a significant research process is involved in her writing.
If you have a question about Sharyn McCrumb that is not answered here, feel free to ask, and I will provide the information to the best of my ability. If I do not have the data, I will return the text content as “The content is being updated …”