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The Ballad of Frankie Silver (1998)

by Sharyn McCrumb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ballad Novels (5)

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8832020,095 (3.86)31
A century after a woman was hanged for killing her husband, a Tennessee sheriff reopens her case. Spencer Arrowood always thought she was innocent, but now that he has been summoned to witness an execution he needs to know.
  1. 00
    The Outlander by Gil Adamson (cransell)
  2. 00
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: Both are historicals about female murderers. And both are equally haunting and mysterious with a good pull at the beginning and a good twist to the end.

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» See also 31 mentions

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  Tammyhil | Mar 18, 2020 |
In the 5th of McCrumb's ballad series, she takes us back to the 19th century, for the trial of Frankie Silver, an 18-year-old North Carolina mountain girl accused of killing her husband and then trying to cover up the crime by butchering, burning and burying him in pieces. Everyone, from the sheriff and the Clerk of the Court where she will be tried to the genteel ladies of the county's higher society, finds it hard to believe in her guilt, but Frankie will not speak of what happened in her cabin that night. There are no witnesses, the physical evidence is damning, and the only other potential suspects were demonstrably several days' journey away hunting in Kentucky. Framing this story, which forms the bulk of the novel, is 20th century Sheriff Spencer Arrowood's concern over the upcoming execution of a man convicted of killing two young Appalachian Trail hikers two decades earlier. Arrowood investigated those murders, arrested then 17-year-old Fate Harkryder, and testifed at his trial. But now he is not at all easy about seeing Harkryder put to death; something about the case keeps bringing the legend of Frankie Silver to his mind. As he is off duty recovering from being shot in the line of duty (in The Rosewood Casket), he plows through his old file as well as everything his deputy Martha Ayers can find for him on the Silver case, trying to work out what it is that feels similar about the two. Meanwhile, Martha and Deputy LeDonne are investigating another murder they don't want Arrowood to find out about while he's still recuperating, fearing he will come back to work too soon and do himself harm. I enjoyed the 19th century tale very much; the frame felt a bit "stuck on" to me. But I have a prejudice against that literary device, and your mileage may differ. There's no doubt that McCrumb can spin a fine yarn. Her books are always hard to put down. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Sep 8, 2019 |
Excellent historical fiction based on an actual event from North Carolina’s history, the early 1830s trial and conviction of Frankie Silver, a young mother accused of murdering her husband.
When present day Sheriff Spencer Arrowood begins to have misgivings about an upcoming execution – one he must witness – it causes him to reflect back on the folklore surrounding the Frankie Silver case. The parallel he uncovers between the two cases leads to an unsettling revelation and provides insight into the cultural inequality of the justice system, both then and now.

On rereading, this continues to be my favorite out of master storyteller Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachian Ballad series but I think I'll reread a few more just to be sure. ( )
  wandaly | Jul 27, 2019 |
The book seemed too long. I read the first hundred pages and the last hundred pages and mildly liked it. But not enough to read the other 200 pages.

It was interesting that Frankie Silver was a historical person. Her story was fascinating and nearly incredible. But part of my issue with the book is that nearly all the 1830s narrative concerning her is in the voice of a court clerk who does not come across as an interesting man. He's sympathetic, but longwinded and prosy to the point of sopor. This might be a case where the choice of an outstanding reader for an audiobook -- a vivid human physical voice -- could rescue a book from the land of lethargy.
  muumi | Dec 26, 2018 |
I cannot quit a book midway, it’s a fault. I hated this book. There was no point, no redemption, it was annoying and depressing. I really liked this author once. ( )
  blueraven57 | Nov 26, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCrumb, SharynAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herbert, C.M.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The rich never hang; only the poor and friendless.--Perry Smith
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"I want to show you a grave." the sheriff said.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A century after a woman was hanged for killing her husband, a Tennessee sheriff reopens her case. Spencer Arrowood always thought she was innocent, but now that he has been summoned to witness an execution he needs to know.

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Book description
In 1833 Frankie Silver became the first woman in North Carolina to be hanged for murder. But what really happened so long ago becomes an obsession for Sheriff Spencer Arrowood, saw the parallels between two crimes more than a hundred yeas apart become as clear - and as shocking - as the single truth that joins two condemned souls ....
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