The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey: A Nonfiction Novel by Bland Simpson is now available as an audiobook from Audible, Libro.fm, and Kobo. Simpson is also the narrator of the audiobook.
Praise for The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey:
1995 Historical Fiction Award, North Carolina Society of Historians
“An arresting and elegant meditation on guilt and innocence and the inscrutability of human behavior.”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“Simpson persuasively re-creates the decorously frenzied, boomtown atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Elizabeth City in the grip of a tabloid mystery complete with bloodhounds, anonymous tipsters, and a famous spiritualist.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bland Simpson conveys images for all senses and his characters are powerful and authentic. The story is a haunting one.”—Mostly Murder
As compelling as fiction, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey tells the dramatic story of the disappearance of nineteen-year-old Nell Cropsey from her riverside home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in November 1901. Bloodhounds, detectives, divers, and even a psychic were brought in to search for her, and the case immediately became a national sensation. Bland Simpson, who first heard the tale as an Elizabeth City schoolboy, weaves this true story into a colorful nonfiction account, told in three first-person voices: Nell’s sister Ollie; famous newspaper editor W. O. Saunders, who covered the case as a young reporter; and Jim Wilcox, Nell’s beau, who was implicated in the case. Nell and Jim’s romance, her disappearance, the great search, the trials, and their aftermath are artfully reconstructed from interviews, court records, and newspaper accounts.
Bland Simpson teaches writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the author of The Great Dismal: A Carolinian’s Swamp Memoir and The Heart of the Country, a novel of southern music. He is also a member of the Red Clay Ramblers, the internationally acclaimed string band.