Month: January 2020

“The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg

“The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg

The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the “Rainbow Murders,” though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas-turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries.

Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America-its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.

You know I like a good true crime. Also, having grown up on the edges of a “hippie” community, I find books involving that lifestyle very intriguing. This book did not disappoint in either category. What I was not anticipating was that the author would weave her own story into the narrative of the murders. But I was not mad about it. Both the author’s life story and the story of the murdered girls were fascinating. She uses one of my favorite structures, going back and forth between the present and the past, to keep the reader’s interest.

Initially, the cops are convinced they know who murdered the girls and they bring that person to trial and get a conviction. Case closed. But is it? It seems that almost all the residents of Pocahontas County have some kind of a connection to someone involved. Suspicions are everywhere and leave the community reeling for years afterward.

In my opinion, the author has done an excellent job of investigating the murders all these years late, and of conveying the facts and the fiction of the killings to her readers. I also appreciate the way her status in the community enabled her to convey, with and inside perspective, the ways that people’s lives were impacted by this event. This book is definitely worth the read.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

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More True Crime Recommendations:


“Facets of Death” by Michael Stanley

“Facets of Death” by Michael Stanley

David Bengu has always stood out from the crowd. His personality and his physique match his nickname, Kubu—Setswana for “hippopotamus”—a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest in Africa. His keen mind and famous persistence have seen him rise in the Botswana CID. But how did he get his start?

His resentful new colleagues are suspicious of a detective who has entered the CID straight from university, skipping the usual beat cop phase.

Shortly after he joins the CID, the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats of diamonds in transit. The robbery is well-executed and brutal. Police immediately suspect an inside job, but there is no evidence of who it could be.

When the robbers are killed execution-style in South Africa and the diamonds are still missing, the game changes, and suspicion focuses on a witch doctor and his son. Does “Kubu” have the skill and the integrity to engineer an international trap and catch those responsible, or will the biggest risk of his life end in disaster?

Welcome to Botswana! This was my first visit and I really enjoyed it, though the heat can be a bit much at times.This story has a clever plot with intriguing twists and turns. But the best part about this book is the characters. They each have unique personalities and as Kubu joins the force his fellow officers are less than thrilled by his presence. But it is these somewhat fractious interactions that make the story so much fun. The main story involves the investigation into a diamond heist but Kubu also has a luggage heist to figure out. This book is the 7th in the series and would definitely pick up another one after reading this book. If you looking for something a little different in the mystery category, give detective Kubu a try.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

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Life and Reading Update

I think an update is way past due here. And since we are having another blizzard day, it seems like a good time. You’ve probably noticed a decrease in the number of reviews I’ve been posting. Well, that’s because I started working as an Accountant again a few months ago and my available reading time has been cut down. We are now entering tax season and it will probably be cut back even more for the next 3 or 4 months. I’m loving the work though, so that’s all good.

So I started the year with a TBR that has 205 books on it. So far I have finished 1 (review coming soon).

I set my Goodreads challenge at 80 books for 2020. I am currently 3 books behind schedule. Slow start out of the gate for this goal but I’m not giving up hope.

I haven’t even finished any audiobooks yet this year because I went down a podcast rabbit hole (Wine & Crime this is your fault) for a couple of weeks.

What’s on my desk right now? I recently finished reading “Facets of Death” by Michael Stanley. This follows a police investigation in Botswana and has a really fun characters. Hopefully I’ll get my review up yet this weekend.

Right now I’m reading “The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg. This is a true crime which follows the investigation into the Rainbow Murder in West Virginia in the early 80’s. This book releases on the 21st and I’m going to try to get my review up to coincide with the release.

I’m almost finished with the audiobook version of “Running Blind” by Lee Child. This is book 4 in the Jack Reacher series. I will leave Amazon links below to all the books mentioned.

Thanks to all my followers for sticking with me and Welcome! to those of you who are new here.

Happy Reading!

“Hill Women” by Cassie Chambers

“Hill Women” by Cassie Chambers

Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills.

Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers’s Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth—the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county—stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma—the sixth child—became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world.

Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services.

Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.


Alinefromabook’s rating:

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Another great Appalachia book:

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

First published in 1944 Fell Murder sees E.C.R. Lorac at the height of her considerable powers as a purveyor of well-made, traditional and emphatic detective fiction. The book presents a fascinating ‘return of the prodigal’ mystery set in the later stages of the Second World War amidst the close-knit farmerfolk community of Lancashire s lovely Lune valley.

The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Garthmere Hall itself was old before Flodden Field, and here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled his household with a rod of iron. The peaceful dales and fells of the north country provide the setting for this grim story of a murder, a setting in fact which is one of the attractive features of an unusual and distinctive tale of evil passions and murderous hate in a small rural community.

I loved this mystery! This is the second classic crime that I’ve read from this author and the writing is just so rich and descriptive that I just feel like I’m there on the farm with the characters. And the Garth family is a fascinating group of personalities. This is a shorter book than the mysteries we get today but it really packs a punch and lacks not at all in twists and turns. The villain is not immediately obvious and the means of murder are vicious. This story has everything a good mystery should have and I highly recommend it. If you’ve never tried a classic crime novel E.C.R. Lorac is a great place to start.

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Other books by this author:


“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series #7

Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…

The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.

This is the second book I’ve read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There’s also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.

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Other books in this series:



“Tripwire” by Lee Child – Audiobook

“Tripwire” by Lee Child – Audiobook

Narrated by Johnathan McClain

Jack Reacher, ex-military policeman relaxed in Key West until Costello turned up dead. The amiable PI was hired in New York by the daughter of Reacher’s mentor and former commanding officer, General Garber. Garber’s investigation into a Vietnam MIA sets Reacher on collision with hand-less “Hook” Hobie, hours away from his biggest score.

Jack Reacher is quickly becoming my newest hero. Parts of this story were very gruesome and hard to listen too, but that was definitely outweighed by the complexity of the story. Reacher starts to develop a personal life which I enjoyed and adds additional dimension to him as a character. The Vietnam War connection in the plot really points out Jack Reacher’s former years in the military and the death of his former mentor will have a completely unexpected outcome on his life. Reacher continues to be a loner, for the most part, and someone who wants to live by his own code, which I have to admit is an archetype that I relate well too. The ultimate resolution of this mystery took me by surprise by seemed very appropriate to the events that had taken place. This story represents to me another way in which war can destroy lives, and that’s something that I think we should all be reminded of frequently. There are multiple lives at stake in this story and the action is riveting. I think this story translated well to audio and the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

Other books in this series: