In Depression-era Appalachia, a desperate sheriff’s widow takes on her late husband’s job and discovers that a prayer the devil answers comes at a terrible price.
The year is 1936 and society provides no safety net for newly widowed Ellie Robbins, a woman in a small mountain town who suddenly has to support her family on her own. She’s not trained to be a teacher or a nurse, the only respectable careers for a woman. So in order to care for her children, Ellie takes the only job available: that of her late husband, the sheriff.
Ellie has long proven that she can handle herself, and her role as sheriff is largely symbolic. Yet the wariness of her male subordinates and the townspeople is palpable. Soon, as dark secrets come to light, Ellie is forced to grapple with the tenuous ties she shares with a convicted killer and the small-town superstitions that have plagued her for years.
When a condemned killer is sentenced to death for his crime, her opportunity to do so presents itself in a way she never expected. There’s one task that only a sheriff can carry out: the execution of a convicted prisoner.
Atmospheric and suspenseful, Prayers the Devil Answers is rich with the same masterful attention to historical detail and captivating folklore that you cherished in McCrumb’s renowned Ballad novels. Her luscious writing brings her unforgettable characters to life with the “pure poetry” (The New York Times Book Review) that defines her astounding novels. Prayers the Devil Answers is a mesmerizing depiction of one woman’s tenacity and strength in even the most harrowing of circumstances.
Sharyn McCrumb is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad novels. She has received a numerous honors for her work, including the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature, the AWA Book of the Year, and Notable Books in both the New York Times and LA Times. She was also named a “Virginia Woman of History” for Achievement in Literature. She lives and writes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, fewer than one hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790.