(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Sharyn McCrumb, who considers herself primarily a storyteller, has increasingly used her mystery novels as vehicles to portray a southern/Appalachian culture where contact with modern issues and problems results in various kinds of violence. Thus, she has stretched the boundaries of the mystery novel, emphasizing the interaction of culture and characters and exploring complex relationships within families or groups of close friends.

McCrumb’s novels have won numerous awards. Lovely in Her Bones (1985) and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (1992) were named Best Appalachian Novel by the Appalachian Writers Association in 1986 and 1992, respectively. Several of her novels have been selected as Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and her fiction has won three Agatha Awards (She Walks These Hills, 1994; If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him, 1995; and “A Wee Doch and Doris”), two Anthony Awards (She Walks These Hills and “The Monster of Glamis”), the Nero Wolfe Award (She Walks These Hills), and the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America (Bimbos of the Death Sun, 1987). She also received the 2006 People’s Choice Award for Fiction, given by the Library of Virginia and the James River Writers, for St. Dale (2005). Her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and Japanese. She has also received the Wilma Dykeman Award for Regional Historical Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society in 2003 and the award for Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature from the Appalachian Writers Association in 1997.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dyer, Joyce, ed. Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1998. Dyer includes McCrumb’s essay discussing her family heritage of music and storytelling.

Holland-Toll, Linda J. “Bridges Over and Bedrock Beneath: The Role of Ballads in Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad Novels.” The Journal of American Culture 29, no. 3 (September, 2006): 337-345. Holland-Toll examines McCrumb’s use of ballads in her series, seeing ballads as links between the past and present.

Holloway, Kimberly, ed. From a Race of Storytellers: Essays on the Ballad Novels of Sharyn McCrumb. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2003. Holloway has collected interpretive articles about McCrumb’s Appalachian novels, adding teaching suggestions.

Kirk, Stephen. Scribblers: Stalking the Authors of Appalachia. Chapel Hill, N.C.: John F. Blair, 2004. Kirk describes interviews with writers associated with Asheville, North Carolina. The McCrumb interview emphasizes the role of Appalachian landscape and culture in her fiction.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an essay that discusses McCrumb’s life and works and how they relate to each other.

McCrumb, Sharyn. Sharyn McCrumb: New York Times Bestselling Author. The author’s Web site offers biographical information, essays about the author, and descriptions of the books.

Vande Brake, Katherine. How They Shine: Melungeon Characters in the Fiction of Appalachia. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2001. Vande Brake analyzes Appalachian writers’ symbolic use of Melungeon characters.