Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sharon McCrumb and Catriona McPherson

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb is historical fiction giving a remarkably researched account of the Greenbrier Ghost.  I had read about the trial in which the testimony of a ghost helped convict the murderer some time back, so I was already invested in discovering more about the murder of Zona Shue back in 1897.  

The case is still on record and you can read some of the newspaper accounts here.

The book is listed as historical fiction, but as a result of McCrumb's intensive research, there is little fiction other than the imagined conversations the author gives the characters.  All of the characters are real, as are the important events.  

Fascinating account of a historical incident.  (Teresa, this is from your neck of the woods!  Are you familiar with the story?)

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30.

NetGalley/Atria Books

Historical Fiction.  Sept. 12, 2017.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've enjoyed each of Catriona McPherson books, and this was no exception.  House. Tree. Person. is the story of Ali McPherson, whose dreams have recently crashed.  Both she and her husband have lost their businesses and have had to sell their dream home and move into a tiny cottage.  Their teenage son Marco is also having difficulty adjusting to the move from friends and to the reduced circumstances.

Then Ali gets a job at Howell Hall, a nearby private psychiatric facility.  (play on How Well or Howl?)  Ali gets the job with a false resume and is pretty certain that the psychiatrist who hires her knows it, and her salary is more than it should be.  Ali is a little suspicious, but in desperate need of income.

As she gets to know the others who work at Howell Hall, she realizes that they are all misfits in some way.  Ali isn't the only one whose qualifications might be in question, and she has her own secrets to hide.

A body is discovered, and although the corpse is at least a decade old, Ali's son is questioned by the police. Dealing with problems at home, Ali also has reservations about the treatments of some of the patients at Howell Hall.   Ali begins to question everything, including her own stability.  

Ali is sometimes annoying, but with the patients at the facility, she shows great warmth and empathy.  Her concerns about her own life and mental health make her behavior erratic at times.

Tension and uncertainty abound in this latest by McPherson, who is quickly building a reputation for psychological suspense.  

I thought the title quite unusual, but it is explained in the novel.  House Tree Person is a technique used by some mental health professionals.

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30

NetGalley/Midnight Ink.

Psychological Suspense.  Sept. 8, 2017.  Print length:  360 pages.


  1. Both of these sound really good. It's been awhile since I've read Sharyn McCrumb, but I liked several of her previous novels. I'm writing these titles down, but they might have to wait until next year...I'm so far behind on my TBR list!! :)

  2. The Unquiet Grave sounds fascinating. I vaguely remember hearing about the story behind the book, but remember so little about it. I will have to add that one to my wish list.

    I have read one book by McPherson and really enjoyed it. House. Tree. Person. sounds like a good one too! I am glad you enjoyed it.

    1. The idea of ghostly influence in a trial is strange, but the ghost didn't appear in person. Whether the jury believed in the ghost or not, they believed the testimony given by Zona's mother.

      Catriona McPherson is really making a name for herself with her spooky and suspenseful novels. :)

  3. Both books sound good but I'm more curious about The Unquiet Grave. There's something about reading historical fiction which is based on a real life event; and all the more if there's a supernatural element to it!

    1. I researched all the characters mentioned in the book and some of them were fascinating. The lawyers for the defense were unusual enough to have books on their own!

  4. I'm familiar with McCrumb of course. My mother and sister heard her speak on more than one occasion. I've heard of this book. I've never stayed at the Greenbrier although everyone else in my family has, and I don't know anything about the ghost. I'll have to pick up the book and update my knowledge. I loved her Nora Bonesteel character who had the "second sight."

    1. McCrumb did an excellent job bringing this unusual bit of history to life. She does love her history and folklore!