Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Is the Ballad Series better read in order or does each story stand alone? Donna Hendricks I don't think they need to be read in order.
Each story is wonderful, in my opinion. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
July 16, 1966
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Mar 07, Melissa rated it really liked it Shelves: mysteries , challenge-spring This is the first in the 'ballad' series of Appalachian novels by Sharyn McCrumb. I like this series so much, and I love that her recurring characters are more than just window-dressing, but are not the main focus of the books.
Ballad - Subject matter | Britannica
This novel seems to take place in , and it feels a bit dated, not only due to the lack of technology no cell phones or computers, not even a fax machine in this tiny town but also due to the interest in and latent advocacy for Vietnam veterans. Not to downplay the This is the first in the 'ballad' series of Appalachian novels by Sharyn McCrumb. Not to downplay the issues, but it seems a faraway time when that was the biggest military issue weighing collectively on society. Not too hard to figure this one out, but still pretty compelling to read and with a bit of something unexpected at the end.
Apr 09, Jeff Dickison rated it it was amazing. The beginning of the Ballad series and man, is ever good. Most of the ballad books can be read as stand alones, but if you haven't started yet, begin here. McCrumb has not done anything this good lately though. Rather than using dialect and accent to give her characters a distinctly Southern voice, however, she uses omniscient narration to reveal their rural, socially stratified, and geographically-defined thoughts and attitudes about their lives, environment, and neighbors.
I happen to think that Southern fiction encompasses a lot more than just works that feature a dead mule or three.
There are some interesting and fairly well-developed characters here, especially Sheriff Spencer Arrowood, his chief deputy, Joe LeDonne, and dispatcher Martha Ayers, and to a somewhat lesser extent victim Peggy Muryan, but the rest are little more than stock characters. Despite the dearth of dead mules, this is assuredly Southern. It features plenty of the grotesque and the gothic, and it's set in the very well-described though fictional East Tennessee mountain town of Hamelin.
I like the conceit of Sheriff Arrowood having his own personal soundtrack of traditional folk ballads, which helps set this series apart from other formula-fiction mystery series. As for the central mystery, it is by far the weakest part of the novel. The killer and his or her motives are evident very early on, and the two red herrings are so transparent as to be more like pale pink herrings. Still, there's a lot here to build on, and I'll be reading further in this series to see how much it improves as it matures.
[Ballads and other poems, printed from unpublished manuscripts]
I've read several McCrumb books, but not in any kind of order. So I'm starting at the beginning of the Ballad series, because I just love the Nora Bonesteel character and want to know everything about her. Sheriff Arrowood is another great character, and so is Joe LaDonne There is lots of Appalachian background I've read several McCrumb books, but not in any kind of order.
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There is lots of Appalachian background and culture, which is always enjoyable to me because I'm from the southern Appalachians. Just a good, entertaining mystery. Jun 02, Rona rated it liked it Shelves: mystery. This series has promise. Setting, lovely. Characters, yet to be fully developed. Mystery, too easy -- I knew who was doing the deeds as soon as the person stepped on stage. Story of the divorced, lonely, sheriff. He's got a boring job in a tiny Appalachian town. Then a stranger comes to town and is threatened by a mad-man.
May 17, Angelique Simonsen rated it it was ok. Real slow to start.
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Hard to get into. Jun 11, Dennis Fischman rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , mystery. Wonderful writing, sense of place, and characters: I will come back to this series just to visit them again. Unlike other readers, I didn't spot the murderer, and the motive still seems far-fetched May 25, Lissa Notreallywolf rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery. I think highly of Sharyn McCrumb, partially because she writes about thinks I love in a voice I understand. This mystery novel is psychologically excruciating and funny at the same time, hallmarks of that dark voice she uses.
Enter small town Sheriff Spencer Arrowood, a man trying to live with ghost of his older brother, the high-school football star killed in Vietnam. Spencer drives around town accompanied by his own mental jukebox, which gives him insight into emotions he was trained never to I think highly of Sharyn McCrumb, partially because she writes about thinks I love in a voice I understand.
Spencer drives around town accompanied by his own mental jukebox, which gives him insight into emotions he was trained never to articulate. He's divorced, and has bad feelings about Jenny, who appears to have been a hand-me-down girlfriend from Cal, although I wondered about midway through the book if Cal hadn't singled out Spencer's crush on Jennie for his attentions just because Cal could. Cal comes off as that sort of fellow in Spencer's recollections, but then he seems to think he's the only one who saw Cal clearly.
It's hard to be the younger brother, especially when the older one dies before he can reveal his real potential or lack thereof. I loved it when you enter Mrs. Arrowood's mind and you find that she keeps her home a museum for her surviving son, and knows that Spencer is worth two of Cal, even though she can't get past her grief for her first born son. No one wants to speak ill of the dead, so Spencer seems to be stuck with his issues, the issues of many of those who did not go to the Killing Fields. Enter the folk singer, Peggy Muryan, the voice of the peaceniks, a celebrity in the little Tennessee town.
The locals want to court her, but are too frightened of her supposed wealth and her somewhat stale fame. Spencer explains that she can break the ice by donating to the local church drive, after he's called in to register a complaint against her dog, Blondeen, who pooped in a neighbor's flowerbed.
She does, and it sets the stage for threatening postcards, Blondeen's death and a host of animal and human deaths. I won't spoil the mystery aspect of it, because the real gist of the novel is the cost of a culture of violence on its survivors. Pretty Peggy-O ends on a note of moral ambivalence-what do we think of Peggy at the end of the novel? Spencer is pretty clearly a due process sort of fellow, but Peggy is more of the point and shoot variety, calculating the costs.
The characters are both haunted people. Spencer has Cal, and Peggy has Travis, her original singing partner and boyfriend. His letters inform the reader of his time in Vietnam, and how cruelly he felt the loss of Peggy, removed not only by his service to his country, but also to her rising status as a singer. We also meet other Vietnam vets, the damaged deputy, the isolated man in a shack on the outskirts of everything. And the evil past stares back at a youth in the local high school who determines to penetrate the darkness of the prior generation.