Coralee Harper struggles for justice for her dead brother and her own sanity in Depression-era rural Arkansas.
In 1926 in rural Green County, Arkansas, where cotton and poverty reign, young Coralee Harper hopes for a family and a place in her community, but when her brother Buddy is killed by a powerful sheriff, she can’t recover from his death or the injustice of his loss. When she begins to spot her dead brother around town, she wonders—is she clairvoyant, mistaken, or is she losing her mind?
What Coralee can’t fathom is that there are forces at work that threaten her and the very fabric of the town: Leroy Harrison, a newly minted, ambitious lawyer who makes a horrible mistake, landing him a judgeship and a guilty conscience for life; an evangelical preacher and his flock of snake-handling parishioners; the women of the town who, along with Coralee’s own mother, make up their own kind of jury for Coralee’s behavior; Sheriff Wiley Slocum who rules the entire field, harboring dark secrets of his own; and finally, Coralee’s husband Earl, who tries to balance his work at the cotton gin with his fight for family and Coralee’s life.
When Coralee ends up in a sanity hearing before Judge Leroy Harrison, the judge must decide both Coralee’s fate and his own. The chain of events following his decision draws him more deeply into the sheriff’s far-reaching sphere of influence, and reveals the destructive nature of power, even—and especially—his own.
"At the center of Mary Elizabeth Pope’s compelling debut novel, The Gods of Green County, is a murder mystery, but there is so much more to be discovered along the way. It is a vivid and memorable portrait of a time and place—intricate threads weaving together a whole community—and the journeys of those forever changed."—Jill McCorkle, Hieroglyphics
"Vibrantly portrayed, the characters in The Gods of Green County inhabit the crossroads where faith intersects with madness, and hope meets despair. Mary Elizabeth Pope has captured, in finely wrought prose, the tragic impact that passion and self-interest so often have on human lives."—Andrew Geyer, Lesser Mountains
"The Gods of Green County instantly drew me in to its time, place, and circumstances. I trod along with its characters as their stories unfolded, a mute onlooker struck by the many moments of grace Pope wrote for them."—Ellen Airgood, Tin Camp Road
"The perfect combination of gorgeous, seemingly effortless writing and a suspenseful plot that will keep you guessing until the very last chapter. A stunning debut novel.”—Anne Panning, Dragonfly Notes