Author: Emma Copley Eisenberg
Published by: Hatchette Books on Jan. 21, 2020
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: HBG Canada
Book Rating: 7/10
In the afternoon or early evening of June 25, 1980, two young women, Vicki Durian and Nancy Santomero, were killed in an isolated clearing in rural Pocahontas County West Virginia. They were hitchhiking to an outdoor peace festival known as the Rainbow Gathering, but never arrived. Their killings have been called “The Rainbow Murders.”
For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted, though suspicion was cast on a succession of local men. In 1993, the state of West Virginia convicted a local farmer named Jacob Beard and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Later, it emerged that a convicted serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin had also confessed. With the passage of time, as the truth behind the Rainbow
killings seemed to slip away, its toll on this Appalachian community became more concrete — the unsolved murders were a trauma, experienced on a community scale.
Emma Copley Eisenberg spent five years re-investigating these brutal acts, which once captured the national media’s imagination, only to fall into obscurity. A one-time New Yorker who came to live in Pocahontas Country, Eisenberg shows how that crime, a mysterious act of violence against a pair of middle-class outsiders, came to loom over several generations of struggling Appalachians, many of them
laborers who earned a living farming, hauling timber, cutting locust posts, or baling hay—and the investigators and lawyers for whom the case became a white whale.
Part “Serial”-like investigation, part Joan Didion-like meditation, the book follows the threads of this crime through the history of West Virginia, the Back-to-the-Land movement, and the complex reality contemporary Appalachia, forming a searing portrait of America and its divisions of gender and class, and its violence.
Honest, descriptive, and informative!
The Third Rainbow Girl is the candid, compelling story detailing the senseless murder of two young women in the woods of West Virginia during the summer of 1980, the subsequent, complex, frustrating, neverending battle for justice, and the author’s own thoughts and experiences of spending time in the area.
The writing is educative and direct. And the novel is a well researched, sincere tale of a crime with no quick, straightforward conclusion and one woman’s personal struggle to discover a self-identity, contentment, and a sense of purpose.
The Third Rainbow Girl is, ultimately, part memoir, part true crime that includes valuable, insightful data into a state plagued by inequality and low socioeconomic status and a murder investigation riddled with inconsistent statements, retracted confessions, and little to no concrete evidence.
This novel is available now.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.
Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.