The Devil Amongst the Lawyers
“Sometimes in trials, they get it wrong… And newspapers get it wrong, too.” This is the essence of Sharyn McCrumb’s literary story in this continuation of the Ballad Novels. The primary focus is on Erma Morton, a young woman being accused of and about to be tried for the murder of her father. Local and metropolitan news reporters from as far away as New York City are converging on Wise, an unknown southwest Virginian town for the trial; literate, mesmerizing stories within stories reveal their real identity. You will meet people like Henry Jernigan, a big-time journalist whose upper-crust background and bittersweet memories of 1920s Japan have shaped his bleak view of the world. Or perhaps it’s Slade or Rose’s point of view to connect to, a propensity to capture reality as a hopeful dream belying disappointment. One’s heart goes out to the amateur journalist, Carl, obsessed with the “going somewhere” syndrome of a Tennessee hack writer and even hoping that his sister with the “Sight” will give him an edge over more experienced reporters.
But the real bomb in this story is how and why the media report as they do, explored in repetitive depth, in shocking fashion that never fails to jar the reader’s sensibilities as one flips the pages faster and faster. Are mindsets and opinions already predetermined, and what does that mean for the pathetic target of that writing in public opinion? McCrumb’s ultimate question: in what way does “missing the point” dramatically change a life forever?
This is a simple, powerful, and brilliant novel that should rank high on the bestseller list in days to come!