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The Ballad of Frankie Silver (Ballad, #5)
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The Ballad of Frankie Silver (Ballad #5)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,269 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
A career lawman will bear witness to the final judgement, as a man he put away twenty years ago is about to be executed for the brutal slaying of two hikers. However, his conscience is no longer clear to the point of absolute certainty about the man's guilt. Also of intense interest to the lawman is the parallel between the current events and a legendary murder and executi ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Signet (first published 1997)
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Cathy Wacksman I felt the same about the sudden shift from one murder to another and had to start over several times to get things straight in my head. Having said…moreI felt the same about the sudden shift from one murder to another and had to start over several times to get things straight in my head. Having said that, I am glad I finished as the story of Frankie captivated me. I didn't think there was a correlation between her story and the Harkryder case but at the very end, it all came together.(less)

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Description: A career lawman will bear witness to the final judgement, as a man he put away twenty years ago is about to be executed for the brutal slaying of two hikers. However, his conscience is no longer clear to the point of absolute certainty about the man's guilt. Also of intense interest to the lawman is the parallel between the current events and a legendary murder and execution over 100 years old -- the story of a great injustice, and a woman condemned to die for a crime she didn't com
Susan Johnson
Sep 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Cowboy stories are definitely not my thing. I should know better than to read books nominated by people who consider Ernest Hemingway the greatest writer ever even if it was for my in person book club.
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frankie Silver was a real person,the first woman hanged in the state of North Carolina, on July 12, 1833. Hers was a tragic story - 18 years old when brought to trial for the murder of her husband, mother of an infant daughter.Convicted in a two-day trial, she was not allowed by law to testify in her own behalf. Her appeals denied by the state supreme court, a grass-roots effort in the community arose to secure a pardon ,but it was not to be. As she stood on the gallows, about to speak, her own ...more
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2009
Didn't really hold my attention. Weird subplot that I'm guessing was meant to parallel the main story, but didn't really. Odd details and foreshadowing that didn't lead anywhere and/or their resolutions were anti-climatic (for example, Burgess mentioned the death of his brother a few times and within the context, made it sound like the death would be an integral part of the story later on. . . of which it was certainly not. And such a big deal was made about keeping the newest murder news away f ...more
C. Lorion
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ballad of Frankie Silver is the only Sharyn McCrumb novel I've read. And that's to my loss.

I read the paperback version of The Ballad of Frankie Silver about five years ago and I've kept it on my shelf ever since, knowing I'll reread it at least a couple more times over the next few years. Yeah, it's that good.

The story alternates between two murder cases, one from 1833, the other from the 1990s. Sheriff Spencer Arrowood is working on the latter while researching the former. What he finds
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
**edited 12/04/13

Frankie Silver was not quite what I expected from the description. It does indeed interweave the present-day with the past, but it is the past where McCrumb focuses her energy and narrative. The two present-day cases only add a frame of reference and a sense of immediacy and connection to that long-ago crime. In the present day, Tennessee Sheriff Spencer Arrowood, laid up at home due to injuries during a shootout, is brooding on the upcoming execution of a man he helped to put b
Some verses from the Bible about equal justice under the law:
Leviticus 19:15 "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly."
Proverbs 29:7 "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."

This book made me see that even among decent, respectable people, of good moral character, it is very difficult to be impartial, and one must really 'go against the flow' to show equal justice and mercy t
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
I never imagined that the story of two double murders and a woman who hacked her husband to death with an axe could be mind-numbingly boring, but Sharyn McCrumb was able to do it. I can't tell you how many pages of intertwining family trees I read through, willing my poor brain to keep them all in order, until I finally realized that they were going to have nothing, NOTHING to do with ANYTHING.

How many times could we be reminded about how small and young Frankie was? How many letters sent to th
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has two threads:one is about a trial and execution of Frankie Silver in 1830 North Carolina. The second is about a modern day murder in Tennessee. The author goes back and forth between the two and connects the two at the end. Sheriff Spencer Arrowood is the modern day central character in the book. He is a central character in other ballad books. I give it four stars out of five.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nell by: MJK
Shelves: mystery, history
Mary Jane has suggested Sharyn McCrumb to me innumerable times over the years, and I finally picked up a library discard to read on the plane. I really enjoyed it, though I wouldn't binge-read McCrumb's books if this one is representative; the tone is dark enough to require some spacing out, and the historical figures are pretty accurate and detail-heavy, down to enumerating a complex web of relatives of the family into which Gaither married. That's why it deserves tagging as history. I would re ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read one of McCrumb's Ballad Series for a few years, and man did I enjoy it. I love that she's bringing these ballads to life. I loved reading about life in Appalachia in both the 19th and 20th centuries. And I just love Southern Lit.
Cathy Wacksman
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Initially I thought this book wasn't going anywhere but it did and was well-worth the read. The part that was confusing was she jumped between different murder cases on the same page which I found confusing. However, having been raised in East Tennessee, I was familiar with the locations mentioned in the stories and was interested in the tales she was relating. I gave her a 5 because she kept to the actual facts of the different murders and added conversations that were very believable. Everyone ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is certainly not an uplifting book but an excellently written one. The book alternates between two time periods - the 1800s and the present. Both deal with people who have been convicted of murder and are awaiting execution. In the earlier time period, it is Frankie Silver, an 18 year old woman who is convicted of killing her young husband but to some, something is amiss. In the present, another young man (Fate Harkryder) was convicted of murdering two hikers and now it is 20 years later an ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

This is an interesting plot linking execution of murderers 165 years apart. Frankie Silver is arrested, tried and found guilty of murdering her husband in 1832. Fate Harkryder has been on death row for 20 years for the murders of two hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Sheriff Spencer Arrowood has received notice that he must witness the execution of Harkryder, but he is haunted by the feeling that Fate is not guilty. His reinvestigation of this 20 year old case prompts him to also reinvestigate
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Robin by: Natalie Paz-Storey
Shelves: favorite
I cannot thank my friend Natalie enough for recommending this book to me! I love storytelling and folklore and the story of Frankie Silver would have been enough for me to enjoy this book. My family comes from the foothills of Appalachia, and recently my kids have returned there for college and I have felt inexplicably drawn to the area over and over as I travel to visit them. There is a mystery there in the hills that draws you in, and somehow McCrumb captures it. But McCrumb does more than jus ...more
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book juxtaposes a factual 150 year old murder case and execution with a fictional contemporary case. The author states that the book is basically about poor people as defendants and rich people as attorneys, but I think that really the book is about the death penalty and how frighteningly imperfect our jury system can be. It's about justice and mercy and a code of honor that says that family is the most important thing in the world and that family members must be protected, no matter what. ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It was a summer reading for our school, and the author visited our school, but the kids never connected to this book. It's actually two stories in one: Frankie who is hanged in the 1830's for killing her husband and Harkrider in modern times who is being executed for killing two hikers on the Appalachian trail. I loved the multiple voices, the way the book makes me think about who we choose to execute and why (definitely shows racism, etc.). The book is crafted well.
Sep 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
Boring, boring, arid, colorless, bromidic, monotonous, insipid, prosaic, reptitious and BORING. Four different murder trials in four different eras and still the most arduous task chore of a book I've ever read.
Janie Watts
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
McCrumb's extensive research of the 1830s murder case, paralleled with a modern-day case, results in a brilliant, well-written story. Why she chose these two cases will be revealed in the end when the connection between the two defendants--separated by more than a century--is revealed.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
مؤلمة, و مقززة.
تمر مئات السنين و يظن الإنسان أنه بلغ أوج التقدم و الحضارة, و لكن في الواقع لا يتغير الإنسان. يبقى هو ذلك الوحش الأهوج المتعطش للدماء.

رواية رائعة.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good mystery with some NC history; to my mind a great combination.
Pamela Harstad
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author's research is fantastic. I did find parts of the book a little slower than her other work, but the story of Frankie is true and incredible. And the story of a current case was interesting. If you want to see and learn about Appalachian life, this book nails it.
Ashli Montgomery
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Although this book does not provide any warm, fuzzy feelings, I did enjoy the story. It is a fictional story about a non-fictional event that happened in 1833. I got caught up in the telling of both tales had a hard time putting it down.
Rachelle Kirby
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite of the Ballad books, but still entertaining.
Margaret Bryson
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It is set, as most of hers are, in the area I live. That brings them to life, knowing the areas she's is writing about.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
The endearing part of this book was Frankie Silver’s plight. She was a real person, convicted of murdering her husband, had a rather botched up court trial that no lawyer wanted to take on for fear of damaging their esteemed reputation and the people of Tennessee lawfully hung a woman.

This was an era when family name and association to those who hold court in high society was the prevailing nature. After all Frankie Silver was a mountain dwelling lass who had no such family name repute to her be
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There's a bit less going on in this book than there is in most of the Ballad series.

The general theme behind this book is miscarriages of justice - people accused and put to death for a crime they didn't commit but wouldn't confess who did. And considering the theme, it makes sense that there's only two examples/story threads instead of the normal 4 or 5 that are going on. Maybe there could have been more plot threads added by generalizing the connecting theme, but that might have trivialized gi
Pat Roberts
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written book, (and beautifully read by Barbara Rosenblat and jeff Woodman) is not for the squeamish. As the book opens, the reader 'sees' three grave stones lined up in the hill country of North Carolina. Who is buried in the graves? Charlie Silver. Yep, one guy. His wife, Frankie, is accused of murdering him and spreading his body in various parts of the countryside. Part of him are also found in their cabin's hearth. In spite of the best efforts of her young court- appointed a ...more
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Sharyn McCrumb has a knowledge of the people of Appalachia that is amazing. When I read her books I am carried back to my childhood and people I have known who were much like the proud self sufficient characters described in McCrumb's pages. I was interested in this book because i have some cousins who are descendants of the Silver family of North Carolina.The Ballad of Frankie Silver tells the story of two murders. Frankie Silver kills her young husband in the early 1800s and Fate Harkryder kil ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
Frankie Silver was a real mountain woman convicted and hanged for the murder of her teen-aged husband in 1823. The fact that she killed him and dismembered him and burned him in the fireplace makes the community rise up against the brutality and she is quickly convicted of the crime and sentenced to be the first woman to ever be hanged in the state.

As time goes on and more facts surface, the townspeople begin to conclude there was much more to the murder and sympathy develops for the quiet, doci
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    Sharyn McCrumb, an award-winning Southern writer, is best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, including the New York Times best sellers The Ballad of Tom Dooley, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, and The Songcatcher. Ghost Riders, which won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Books. The Unquiet Gra
More about Sharyn McCrumb...

Other Books in the Series

Ballad (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O (Ballad, #1)
  • The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (Ballad, #2)
  • She Walks These Hills (Ballad, #3)
  • The Rosewood Casket (Ballad, #4)
  • The Songcatcher (Ballad, #6)
  • Ghost Riders (Ballad, #7)
  • The Devil Amongst the Lawyers (Ballad, #8)
  • The Ballad of Tom Dooley (Ballad, #9)
  • King's Mountain (Ballad, #10)
  • Prayers the Devil Answers

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“A man is always a little shamefaced on his wedding day, like a fox caught in a baited trap, ensnared because his greed overcame his better judgment. The menfolk laughed at Charlie that spring day, and said he was caught for sure now. As the bride, I was praised and fussed over, as if I had won a prize or done something marvelous that no one ever did before, and I could not help feeling pleased and clever that I had managed to turn myself from an ordinary girl into a shining bride. Now I think it is a dirty lie. The man is the one who is winning the game that day, though they always pretend they are not, and the poor girl bride is led into a trap of hard work and harsh words, the ripping of childbirth and the drubbing of her man's fists. It is the end of being young, but no one tells her so. Instead they make over her, and tell her how lucky she is. I wonder do slaves get dressed up in finery on the day they are sold.” 2 likes
“I wonder which is worse-the death, not knowing what comes after, or the wedding, when you think you know, but you're wrong.” 1 likes
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