On June 25, 1980, two young women were killed in an isolated clearing in rural Pocahontas County West Virginia. They were hitchhiking to an outdoor peace festival known as the Rainbow Gathering, but never arrived. Their killings have been called “The Rainbow Murders.” I spent five years re-investigating these brutal acts. Part “Serial”-like investigation, part Joan Didion-like meditation, the book follows the threads of this crime through the history of West Virginia, the Back-to-the-Land movement, and the complex reality of contemporary Appalachia, forming a portrait of America and its divisions of gender and class, and its violence.


"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

"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

"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 finalist and author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me

January 21, 2020. Pre-order. Sign up for updates.