Pocahontas County. June 25, 1980. Two bodies are found in an isolated field off Lobelia Road. Suspicion shifts from one local to another, then onto a roving serial killer. After thirteen years, a local farmer is charged and convicted, but his conviction is quickly overturned and he’s released.
As a college student in NYC, Emma Copley spent her summers teaching at a girls camp along the Greenbrier River, not far from the site of the murders. She came of age as an outsider in the close knit community and, after returning to the mountains year after year, she eventually decides to settle down and make a home for herself alongside the string pickers and beer drinkers and creek swimmers.
In The Third Rainbow Girl Eisenberg weaves together true crime reportage with her own memoir and a bit of social history to create a wholistic piece of writing that expands the genre of nonfiction.
“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
“Headlines only deliver digestible trope: Backcountry hicks confront hippie celebrants, two dead. But for the indefatigable Emma Copley 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
The 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