The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb


In 1934 all the national publications sent their star reporters to remote Virginia to cover the trial of Erma Morton: a beautiful 21-year-old year old mountain girl with a teaching degree, accused of murdering her father–a drunken tyrant of a man.

Eager for a new cause celebre to capture the public’s imagination, they were counting on reports of horse-drawn buggies, run-down shacks, children in thread-bare clothes–all of the stereotypes of mountain life. But among them is Carl Jennings, an 18-year-old mountain boy on his first job. An eager, honest journalist, he reports accurately–describing telephones, electricity, gas stations, and coal company executives.

So when their reports conflict, Carl is condemned, while the seasoned journalists perpetuate the myths of country life–and Erma Morton’s guilt or innocence is literally sold to the highest bidder–a wronged woman on trial sells papers. Soon, it is not the murder that is of interest: but the vultures attracted by the deaths. In the midst of all this, Carl continues to search for the truth, relying on his younger cousin, Nora–gifted with the “sight”–for help.

A stunning return to the lands, ballads and characters upon which she made her name, Devil Amongst the Lawyers is a testament to Sharyn McCrumb’s lyrical and poetic writing.

The Devil Amoungts Lawyers is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. I won a copy of this book by Sharyn McCrumb in goodreads giveaways way back in May. It’s been sitting on my to be read shelf since then making me feel guilty that I hadn’t started it. I found an audio version of it on Overdrive and downloaded it to listen to it.

Although this isn’t the kind of book I usually read I ended up enjoying it. This historical fiction book follows the account of the trial of a school teacher charged with murdering her father and the reporters who come to town to cover the case. The “Devil” in this story is obviously the journalists who cover the story and the way they manipulate public opinion.

The book is based upon the trial of Edith Maxwell who was accused of murdering her father in 1935.

Content: This book was a clean read.

Rating: 3.5 stars