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The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia (Hardcover)

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A stunningly written investigation of the murder of two young women--showing how a violent crime casts a shadow over an entire community.

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.

About the Author

Emma Copley Eisenberg is a writer whose work has appeared in Granta, VQR, McSweeney's, Tin House, The Paris Review online, The New Republic, Salon, Slate, and elsewhere. Her work has been supported by the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Elizabeth George Foundation, Lambda Literary, and the New Economy Coalition. Her reporting has been recognized by GLAAD, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the Deadline Club and Longreads' Best Crime Reporting 2017. Eisenberg lives in Philadelphia, where she co-directs Blue Stoop, a community hub for the literary arts.

Praise For…

Apple Books, "Best Books of January"

Amazon, "Best Books of January 2020" in Nonfiction and History

Amazon, "10 Best Mysteries & Thrillers of the Month"

Indie Next Pick for February 2020

O Magazine, "16 of the Best Books to Read this January!"

Electric Lit, "20 Most Anticipated Debuts of Early 2020"

The Millions, "Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2020 Book Preview! "

Library Journal, "Editors' Fall Picks for 2019"

Publishers Weekly, "New True Crime Books 2019-2020"

Southern Independent Bookseller Association, "Okra Pick for Winter 2020"

SheReads, "Most Anticipated Memoirs of 2020"

"Headlines only deliver
digestible tropes: Backcountry hicks confront hippie celebrants, two
dead. But for the indefatigable Emma Eisenberg, approaching the murders
at Briery Knob is about more than who fired the gun. An affection for
this law-resistant corner of West Virginia enables her to transcend the
simple formula of white male rage. Stepping into darkness, she extracts a
nuanced sense of place and draws a map with historical connections."—Nancy Isenberg, New York Times bestselling author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

"Part crime narrative and part soul-searching memoir, Emma Copley
Eisenberg's The Third Rainbow Girl has so much wisdom to offer. It's
about the corrosiveness of preconceived notions, and about how trauma
ripples through cultures and generations, and about finding connections
in others and strength in oneself. Rich in detail and sensitivity and
intelligence and honesty, this is a book you won't want to put down, one
that will stay with you for a long time."—Robert Kolker, New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

"Emma Copley Eisenberg has written a true crime book that brings to mind
Truman Capote's masterpiece In Cold Blood: elegantly written, perfectly
paced, and vividly realized people and places. Equally impressive is
her refusal to condescend to the inhabitants of the Appalachian
community where the crimes occurred. The Third Rainbow Girl is a major
achievement."—Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

"I blazed through this book, which is a true crime page-turner, a moving
coming-of-age memoir, an ode to Appalachia, and a scintillating
investigation into the human psyche's astounding and sometimes chilling
instinct for narrative. A beautiful debut that will stay with me for a
long time, whose story mesmerizes even as it convinces you to find all
mesmerizing stories suspect."—Melissa Febos, Lambda Literary Award winner and author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me

"Emma Eisenberg has distinguished herself as a reporter of remarkable
wisdom and conscience, and her powers are on full display in The Third
Rainbow Girl
. Eisenberg's meticulous, compassionate reporting does not
promise any of the easy answers we might expect from true crime: neither
about what happened to the "Rainbow Girls," nor about poverty,
injustice, and the fate of outsiders-whether hippies, hitchhikers,
carpet baggers, or journalists-who give and take in this country's
poorest areas. Her insights are hard won, deep, and devastating, making
this an unforgettable debut."—Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession

Third Rainbow Girl
succeeds on two levels: first, as a deep
dive inquiry into the 1980 murders of two young women in Pocahontas
County, West Virginia, and the ensuing, tangled investigation, and second, as
an intimate and humane portrait of a close-knit Appalachian community, the
kind of place that is often reduced by outsiders to little more than a cliché
of itself. As Jimmy Breslin once wrote of the legendary New York chronicler,
Damon Runyan, 'He did what all great reporters do ... he hung out.' A
remarkable book."—Richard Price, New York Times bestselling author of Lush Life

Third Rainbow Girl
is a staggering achievement of reportage, memoir, and
sociological reckoning. We are better for this brilliant, gorgeous, and deeply
humane book."—Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award Finalist and author of Her Body and Other Parties

"In The Third Rainbow
Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia
Emma Copley Eisenberg uses the unsolved 1980 murders of Vicki Durian, 26, and
Nancy Santomero, 19, in Pocahontas County, WV, as a lens through which to
consider the effects of violent acts on the communities where they occur."—Library Journal

"The Third Rainbow Girl is a fascinating hybrid work of true crime and memoir... In following the twists and turns of the case, Eisenberg paints an affectionate portrait of Appalachia that complicates and contradicts stereotypes about the region."—Shelf Awareness

"The Third Rainbow Girl is a riveting excavation of the secrets time, history, and place keep. In a long-buried crime, Emma Copley Eisenberg has unearthed a story that reveals America."
Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder & A Memoir

"[Eisenberg] reconstructs the case with a brisk pace
and a keen sensitivity ... offers a nuanced portrait of a crime and its decades
long effects. A promising young author reappraises a notorious double
murder-and her life."—Kirkus Reviews

"Eisenberg has
crafted a beautiful and complicated ode to West Virginia. Exquisitely written,
this is a powerful commentary on society's notions of gender, violence, and
rural America. Readers of literary nonfiction will devour this title in one
sitting."—Booklist, starred review

"This is essential reading for true crime fans."—Publishers Weekly

"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."—Amazon Book Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316449236
ISBN-10: 0316449237
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: January 21st, 2020
Pages: 336