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The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter [Turtleback]

Sharyn McCrumb
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Turtleback, August 1995 --  
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Book Description

August 1995 0606061479 978-0606061476
The Underhill family were newcomers to town, now four of them lie dead. An open and shut case it appears - the eldest son killed them, then turned the gun on himself. Only Sheriff Arrowood and old Nora, who has "the sight", remain unconvinced. But that is not all that Nora can foresee.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Revisiting some of the characters from If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O, Edgar Award winner McCrumb weaves Appalachian folklore and death, in natural and unnatural forms, into a story that meanders like a mountain stream through the hills of east Tennessee before rushing to its turbulent conclusion. Wake County Sheriff Spencer Arrowood asks Laura Bruce, wife of the local Baptist minister, who is now an Army chaplain stationed overseas, to comfort the bereaved at the scene of a bloody murder. Ret. Maj. Paul Underhill, his wife and two of his four children are dead, shot apparently by one of the sons, who took his own life after killing the others. Laura serves as advocate for the surviving children, Maggie and Mark, who want to remain in the house so they can continue going to classes at the local high school. But when deputy Joe LeDonne discovers that the two have disinterred their father's body from its grave, he wants to know what really happened on the night of the shooting. Concurrently, 38-year-old Laura is told she is pregnant and local farmer Tavy Annis is diagnosed with cancer, brought on by a chemical spill in the Little Dove River. These plots twine around the knowledge of an old mountain seer whose gift adds to the haunting quality of the story and to its chilling suspense. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Here, McCrumb turns serious as she explores death from many angles: the matter-of-factness of a backwoodswoman with the gift of Sight; the get-even attitude of two old friends, one dying from the willful contamination of the Little Dover River by the Titan Paper Company; the emotional trauma paralyzing a brother and sister (who were subjects of physical abuse and witnesses to a family bloodbath and suicide); and the despair of a three-year-old who loses his mother, and of a pregnant woman who loses her unborn child. The story unfolds through the vision of Nora Bonesteel, whose Sight sets her to sewing a funeral quilt with six graves on it, and the ministrations of Dark Hollow, Tennessee, preacher's wife Laura Bruce, who is trying to tend to her husband's flock while he's serving in the Gulf. Four of the tombstones are soon co-opted by the Underhills--mother/father/two sons--and while Sheriff Arrowood tries to understand why son Joshua killed his kin and himself, two old friends hold the paper company's CEO hostage for carcinogenic polluting (another grave), and a trailer fire (another tombstone) fills out the quilt, while Laura, grieving for her unborn child, completes the dying cycle. Compelling, in the manner of a folk tale, despite the rather limp prose. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars star July 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"sharyn mcccrumb" on a book is a surety of star quality talent. I will save and read them again. she really picks me up and puts me in her mountains. I would and have praised her to all my friends and their brothers. not just girlie books.
loved this book too! shaon
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5.0 out of 5 stars SHARYN McCRUMB, YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN! THANK YOU! Sept. 28 2000
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There is no doubt about it. Sharyn McCrumb is a highly gifted author and this book proves that yet again. She has an incredible sense of voice and feeling. In relating the issues of poverty and environmental concerns, her lyrical (for lack of a better word) descriptions of the settings ring strong and clear. In reading this work, as with her other "Ballad" books, one feels almost transported to the places she describes. Sharyn McCrumb does an exceptional job of intwining the social horrors of poverty and pollution with the gentle beauty of the mountains. It is her voice, as clear as a bell, as soothing as a bird song that makes this book so darn good.
Her characters are all richly drawn and given fresh, literary life. Her sense of dialog is outstanding and there is nothing extraneous in her work. Sharyn McCrumb is here to stay.
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2.0 out of 5 stars not her best May 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
McCrumb has a tendency to toss in one completely unrealistic plot device to keep her stories moving in the way she wants them to go. In The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, it's the ridiculously non-existant guardianship of the Underhill teens. Can you say, "Ward of the state?"
Also, what was with the whole thing about the Judds? Particularly since all the facts were wrong. McCrumb has Martha tell Spencer that the liver is the one organ that doesn't get better, when reality is exactly the opposite. The liver is the ONLY regenerative organ in the body. Also, what's with the talk of the hepatitis coming from bad road food? If you don't want to go into the modes of transmission of hepatitis C, don't make it a subplot. As someone with a family member with hep C, the misinformation here really annoyed me. It's horribly nitpicky to say it affected my enjoyment of the rest of the book, but I kept thinking, what other facts has she gotten completely wrong? not her best effort at all.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It was alright... April 30 2004
By Cass
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I started reading this book b/c of it the title. I love sort of off beat book titles and this was certainly different. It was depressing and didn't make a whole big bunch of sense. However I was intrigued with the writing and plot quality. I became enthralled with the SEER stuff and things of the supernatural. Being from the dark woods of the Ozarks I can totally respect those points of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! May 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nora Bonesteel, the wise woman of the Tennessee mountains is what her Celtic forebears would recognize as an "edge witch", one who patrols the boundaries between life and death, good and evil, the supernatural and the mundane. In this novel sorrow comes to the mountain community in the guise of an murder/suicide on a remote farm and via a polluted river that brings death into the valley. Nora Bonesteel, with her graveyard quilt and her herbal remedies does what she can do to protect the ordinary folk from tragedy. This is a wonderful novel to trace the continuance of Celtic heritage and folkways into America's Eastern mountains which were settled by Britain's Highlanders.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great find! April 29 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read the first book in this series, Pretty Peggy-O and read this one right after. This book still seemed to have the author finding her way as a writer, but it was better than the first. And that's not to say I didn't like the first, I did. I liked this one better, but I think it still earns a 4. I am on to the next books in the series and I'm really excited, I think McCrumb has great potential as a writer. She creates stories and characters that you just seem to become wrapped up in. This is definitely a good susepense story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling Murder-Mystery Nov. 29 2002
Format:School & Library Binding
I picked up this book reluctantly, because I have always found mysteries to be stale and boring. But this book has a way of pulling you in that you never want to get back out. It starts out that this big family gets murdered, all but two, and they know that one of the brothers did it and committed suicide when he was done. The reluctant wife of the minister is sent to deal with the survivors. The story goes from there, hopping from one person's point of view to another's, with many different little side-stories inter-twining all into one big picture. The characters are beautifully and sadly drawn, and all of the different stories come together with such preciseness that the reader is amazed. A definite must read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars DEPRESSING Aug. 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are several books that I call my "Seasonal Affective Disorder" books. I reread them every year during the dark nights of January, and they lift me up out of the winter doldrums. _The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter_ is the exact opposite. I read it in the middle of July, and it *gave* me a case of the winter doldrums. Sharyn McCrumb uses lovely prose to drag us into the depths of an Appalachian winter, where the tragedies are as pervasive as the cold.
Laura Bruce, the wife of the local minister, is summoned to the home of a family she barely knows, where the oldest son has shot his parents, youngest brother, and himself, leaving the two middle kids (who were out at the time) alive but distraught. This isn't really a mystery--there is no question as to whodunit, or even why--I guess I've read too many books, but I knew exactly what the family secret was from the very beginning. The question is, whay will become of the two remaining teenagers now that they are alone in the world? The law demands a guardian until the older sibling, the boy, reaches 18 in a few months. Laura Bruce takes on the position, but not the responsibility; she sees it mainly as a formality and doesn't check on them much. As the winter progresses, Laura becomes preoccupied with her own problems, and completely ignores the teenagers until disaster (quite literally) strikes. Hello? Why did Laura marry a minister if she didn't want to assume the social role of a minister's wife? And why, why, WHY did she agree to become these poor kids' guardian if she wasn't going to even give them a call once in a blue moon? Yes, I know she has her own problems, but she is almost forty, these kids are in high school, and she accepted the responsibility. She's an adult, and she doesn't act like one.
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