there was a tiny town named Hamelin in the Tennessee hills. Gather round while Sharyn McCrumb weaves another of her Ballads. "Hangman" has it all: Fire, Flood, Murder and Pestilence race through this plainspoken tale.
Ms. McCrumb deftly guides alternating voices through the high-speed story. The tale is a page-turner, not as reflective as the other ballad stories. Nora Bonesteel, who has the Sight, is almost swept aside in the swift-moving events, both God and man-made.
Ms. McCrumb's near poetical characterizations are a delight, particularly the Ophelia-like, fifteen year-old Maggie Underhill. Maggie etches herself in your mind, though she is elusive as a fairy child. Stalwart Sheriff Spencer Underwood's not-so-secret devotion to country singer, Naomi Judd, weaves lightly in and out of the story.
I was troubled by the medical course of action advised for Laura Bruce, pregnant minister's wife. I can't see where it furthered the plot, and it seemed grossly erroneous. It is difficult to fathom how a closely-knit community can leave two teenagers whose family had been massacred so completely on their own. Surely, the church and neighbors would visit and attempt to assist them. All the characters intend "to stop by," but never get around to it. These were my only two reservations about the story line.
"The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" should be started early in the day, because it's bad for your health and disposition to stay up all night reading a book. Enjoy.