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1. The Transcendental Murder (Homer
2. The Shortest Day: Murder at the
3. The Astonishing Stereoscope (Hall
4. The Thief of Venice: A Homer Kelly
5. Dark Nantucket Noon: A Homer Kelly
6. Emily Dickinson Is Dead: A Homer
7. Murder at the Gardner : A Novel
8. The Diamond in the Window (The
9. The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles,
10. Divine Inspiration: A Homer Kelly
11. Natural Enemy: A Homer Kelly Mystery
12. Good and Dead (Homer Kelly Mystery)
13. The Deserter: Murder at Gettysburg
14. Steeplechase: A Homer Kelly Mystery
15. The Swing in the Summerhouse (Hall
16. The Dragon Tree (The Hall Family
17. Murder at the Gardner
18. The Memorial Hall Murder
19. Murder at Monticello: A Homer
20. Boyhood of Grace Jones

1. The Transcendental Murder (Homer Kelly Mysteries, No. 1)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 344 Pages (2008-06-25)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 193460903X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Scholarly infighting can get a lot more violent than most outsiders realize, but most of the time, that violence is confined to the printed page. Not so in Concord, Mass., where the arrival of Homer Kelly, a well known expert on the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, has stirred up passions concerning a manuscript that may or may not have been written by Henry David Thoreau, one of Emerson's colleagues. Things come to a head during the towns annual re-enactment of Paul Revere's famous ride, when one of the "Minutemen" turns up dead, still in Revolutionary regalia. Accustomed to little more than the odd stolen bicycle, the local police are way over their head, but Kelly-in this, his first outing-proves as gifted at sleuthing as he is at scholarship. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing but no drawings in this reprint edition
I've loved Jane Langton's Homer & Mary Kelly mysteries forever, for the people, plots, history, AND for the remarkable drawings that were in all the Penguin editions, now mostly all out of print.

Felony and Mayhem, reprinting 'classic cozies,' is to be praised for returning the first of the Kelly mysteries to the bookshelf, but they left out Langton's clever line drawings. Maybe they couldn't get permission? Maybe they didn't think the drawings necessary.

I guess they're not necessary but are part & parcel of Langton's charm, a rare gift she shared with her readers.

So I'm giving this edition of this great book 3, not 5, stars and hope people will find and buy the out-of-print Penguin editions.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Book for Jane Langton Fans
If you've read other Homer and Mary Kelly mysteries, but not this one, put this one on your list!

This book not only is a good story, but we get to see Homer and Mary when they first meet. Of course, they find each other irritating. The plot, which is quite good and intriguing, throws Mary and Homer together, but still it looks like they will never like each other. All the while, you the reader, know from the other books that they will end up together.

Langton has her usual cast of colorful and eccentric characters, an interesting mystery that goes back to the past and involves the Transcendentalists, and pokes her usual gentle fun at people who are carried away with themselves.

I enjoyed this both for seeing how Homer and Mary met, and for the story itself. A must for those who enjoy Homer and Mary Kelly!

4-0 out of 5 stars Henry David and Emily ?
Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickenson together ... well perhaps?Detective Homer Kelly and beautiful librarian Mary Morgan together ... you'll just have to read it! The 60 short chapters keep the story and the mystery moving along shapely, like a bite out of a McIntosh apple or a cool swig of apple cider.Perhaps there is nothing transcendental about murder, but each chapter is introduced by a quote from Thoreau, Emerson, Dickenson, or the Alcotts, and the quotes help you feel the presence of these in Concord. A good mystery and a fun read! As a bird watcher, I would have to question the realism of the Bald Eagle being Teddy's last bird on Thoreau's list, particularly since the now extinct, Passenger Pigeon was seen by Thoreau.

5-0 out of 5 stars It stays in the mind
I first read this book in 1966 in high school and remember becoming instantly attracted to the characters and the New England setting.Even after all these years I remember worrying that Mary and Homer would neverget together.They were both so different and eccentric they belongedtogether! Langton also manages to keep a respectable mystery going thatkeeps you guessing and with an exciting ending. Over the years I haveread and enjoyed Langton's other books as very literate - just quirky andfunny enough to be charming without being silly. Some years ago I visitedNew England and found myself imagining Mary and Homer in the places Ivisited. So it appears I can never forget Mary and Homer as they havebecome a part of my life. Over 30 years ago I wished these characters werereal so I could meet them - after all this time I still do.

5-0 out of 5 stars This one got me Hooked!
I read this book on a trip overseas; several of us did a paperback swap to lighten our loads and at first I was none too thrilled to have to lug thisone around. But to my surprise and sheer delight, it started a wonderfullove affair with this author's main character, Homer Kelly.I love hisclumsy actions, absent-minded professor ways -- and Jane Langton's linedrawings are wonderful.I have read every one of these books and scanamazon constantly for news of her latest releases. Set in Massachusetts, itis just a great read. Enjoy! ... Read more

2. The Shortest Day: Murder at the Revels (A Homer Kelly Mystery)
by Jane Langton
Mass Market Paperback: 272 Pages (1996-11-01)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$2.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140173773
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Langton fans will love curling up in front of a roaring holiday fire with her latest Homer Kelly adventure--a rich Christmas brew spiced with medieval revelry, a romantic rivalry, and a soupcon of murder. Line drawings. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars I listened to an unabridged recording of this book
I loved it.I was sorry when it came to an end.I think this is my favorite Langton so far -- beautifully written and at times very wise.

Like most Langton books, this isn't a conventional mystery -- you know very early on who the killer is -- the only suspense (and it's actually suspenseful) is who is going to be the next victim and how and when the killer will be caught.

The setting is Cambridge, Massachusetts -- Harvard to be exact.The Revels to celebrate the Winter Solstice (very Christmassy, of course) are being rehearsed.There are a number of people involved in the revels, some of whom meet an unfortunate end.The police don't seem to notice a trend, but Homer Kelly's wife Mary does and she has some suspicions about who is responsible -- not that Homer listens to her.

Other themes weave in and out -- a homeless activist is staging confrontations with Harvard University, insisting that they hand over some real estate to some homeless people.He's assembled a tent city on campus as part of the protest.Then there's an astronomist who is taking a photograph of the movement of the sun in the sky over the course of the year.

THis is an intelligent novel, with some suspense, humor, and wisdom.You feel like you're right there and can see it all (I'm ready to fly to Boston to see the Revels for myself!)I also thought it was well read and I enjoyed listening to the tapes as I drove.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Homer Kelly Mystery!
"The Shortest Day" uses an unusual (for a mystery, that is) plot device to great effect: you know whodunit early in the book and follow the good characters as they try to find out what you already know.You want to shout "Look there!" to them, and you cower when you see that the villain means to strike again.In this Homer Kelly mystery, the action is centered around the annual Christmas revels, which are to take place in Harvard's Memorial Hall, in which Mary, Homer's wife, is singing and into which Homer is himself eventually dragged kicking and screaming.As the book opens, the first of a series of murders has occurred...this one witnessed by Mary, herself.This book has just the right combination of humor, suspense, and flesh-and-blood characters - plus, of course, Ms. Langton's signature line drawings - to make it a real page-turner.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Mystery
Set amidst a production of the Christmas Revels at Harvard, the mystery is solved by Homer Kelly, the big oaf, and his much more intuitive wife Mary.Intertwined with the richness of the Revels is the encampment of homeless people on Harvard's campus, themes of love and jealousy, and the author's beautiful line drawings of Cambridge.One of Langton's best. ... Read more

3. The Astonishing Stereoscope (Hall Family Chronicles, Book 3)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-12-01)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$11.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064401332
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Five mysterious cards ...

When Eddy Hall receives five cards for his stereoscope, he and his sister, Eleanor, can't wait to see what exotic places they reveal-maybe Stonehenge, or a centuries-old European cathedral. But instead, when they look through the stereoscope, Eddy and Eleanor see some very strange things. An odd-looking rope hangs from the sky down into every picture. A marmalade-colored cat that looks suspiciously like Herm, the family cat, also appears. And one picture looks like the front hall of their very own house! The images seem to be almost real, not just three-dimensional illusions. All it will take is one little tug on that rope to find out for sure....

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Seeking the Sources of Magic and Faith
Continuing the Hall family fantasies this book focuses on the surrealistic adventures of the red-headed siblings, Eleanor and Eddy--with a little help from younger cousin, Georgie, and their crazy cat, Herm.Readers return to the dilapidated house at #40 Walden Street in historical Concord, MA, where Uncle Freddy, the absent-minded professor, runs a School for Transcendental Studies.
This series of adventures is launched by the arrival of special gifts from an Indian magician-friend of the family, the ubiquitous Prince Krishna: a charming kaleidoscope for Georgie and an
astonishing stereoscope for the older kids.This old-fashioned stereopticon comes complete with five sepia-toned cards for amazing viewing, which whisk the surprised travelers through time and space.

Of course the deadly duo of Mr. Preek and Miss Prawn lurks around the corner, waiting to stalk and harass the family. When a college student-resident falls off the roof and lies unconscious for months in a hospital--with mounting bills--the entire family is plunged into despair and forced to seek desperate measures. Both Eleanor and Eddy privately blame themselves for John's accident and vow to change their lifestyle in order to manipulate Fate.

Despite the cute and enjoyable aspects of this story Langton
presents many serious themes: comparative religions, man's role on earth and in the universe, introducing questions of personal guilt and one's attitude toward God.Just who is the mysterious, unseen photographer who transports them back home in a Flash, after each adventure? Like the quaint stereopticon with its two sets of almost identical cards, are there two ways to view the world?Are you brave enough to pull the tantalzying rope which hangs from the balloon's basket? A cute tale for kids 10 -15.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exploring spirituality
The Astonishing Stereoscope does what the Hall Family Chronicles by Jane Langton does best--mixing an exciting adventure with ideas that most children's books can't touch.This adventure, in which a magic stereoscope transports Eddie and Eleanor back in time and into dimensions of particle physics and molecular biology, holds up very well.

I read The Diamond in the Window and the Swing in the Summerhouse over and over as a child--when copies were usually held by a library.Langton's children's books stay with you--and reading them as an adult is just as much a delight as when you are 10 or 11.Jane Langton's skillful use of Henry David Thoreau's messages and the local color of more modern Concord, Massachusetts ground the series.

The child characters, Eddie, Eleanor, and Grace all act like children in the series--intelligent and sensitive and occasionally impetuous children.They are that rarest of juvenile creations--curious children.

I can't imagine how Langton continues the series which began in the 1960s in the 1990s--but she always finds new challenges for the Hall Family and new ideas to share with her readers.

Langton is the author of the Homer Kelly mysteries, which always include some local color and her own delightful illustrations.I think that the Memorial Hall Murder is about the most memorable--it certainly kept me awake and reading back in the early 1980s.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my most favorite books
Stereoscope was given to me as a gift when I was 10 years old (back in 1971). I thought "oh great, a book. :(" It sat unread for a few months, but one bored day I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Over the past 30 years I have read it again and again and come to realize how profoundly this book influenced my thinking about the natural world, religion, and our role as human beings. I kid you not.

This is a delightful book that you really should buy for your favorite 10 year old.

4-0 out of 5 stars 3rd in the series, but can be read on its own.
I know that because I read it before I read THE DIAMOND IN THE WINDOW or THE SWING IN THE SUMMERHOUSE. I enjoyed reading my library's copy so much that I bought the book the first chance I got.

The stereoscope seems to have been an early version of the Viewmaster.This one is astonishing because it's another magical gift from Prince Krishna.Eddy and his older sister, Eleanor, don't just get to see 3-D views -- they can enter them to have adventures, such as meeting some of their ancestors from Puritan days.Herman the Crazy Cat shows the way.

Eddy and Eleanor need the distraction because they both feel very guilty about the accident to their Uncle Fred's student, John Green.John is in a coma and Uncle Fred has to take out a loan to pay the hospital bills.Mr. Preek the banker and his secretary, Miss Prawn, are so happy.They're sure that they will be able to foreclose on the loan.Then they can finally destroy the Halls' fancy old house that they hate so much.Besides, Miss Prawn wants some of the Halls' antiques to sell.

Will Eleanor and Eddy rescue their cat from being trapped in the stereoscope?Will they be able to prevent a human sacrifice in one of their adventures?Will Prince Krishna's potted palm wander the universe forever?Will John ever come out of his coma?Will the Hall family lose their home?

By the way, the hot air balloon on the cover really is in the book.It's part of a guided tour that's the most astonishing view the stereoscope has. ... Read more

4. The Thief of Venice: A Homer Kelly Mystery (Homer Kelly Mysteries)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 256 Pages (2000-05-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$17.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014029189X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Leaving Concord, Massachusetts, for a six-week sabbatical in Venice, Professor Homer Kelly finds bliss at a rare-books conference while his wife, Mary, sets out to photograph the magnificent churches, palaces, squares, and waterways of the city. Elsewhere, golden treasures, hidden for half a century, lead to a vicious killing. During one of her tourist excursions, Mary snaps a picture of the extremely handsome murderer who befriends and then seduces her. Soon, holy artifacts begin to disappear as the acqua alta rises with the body count. When the streets are flooded and the moon is full, temptation overwhelms, bullets fly, and Homer and Mary learn that even their closest friends are hiding secrets that could end in death. In a city of legendary wonders, the Kellys will need nothing less than a miracle to survive.

"A book that offers love, murder, and miracles"--Chicago Tribune ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

1-0 out of 5 stars As exciting as Great Uncle John's two hour slide show of his vacation.
We got this book in audio version to listen to during a long car ride.By the end of the third disk, we were wishing there had been an abridged version, maybe two disks long instead of six.This was our first and last Homer Kelly mystery.

The descriptions of Venice were quite detailed but uninteresting.It reminded me of watching somebody's too long slide show of their vacation, where all the pictures are of poor quality, and the description of the trip is really boring and way too long.Even though the destination is wonderful, you still fall asleep.Giving long lists of items, which was done several times in the book, is an example of giving detail without adding interest.Describing the same thing over and over with little variation is also detailed but boring, such as the rising water in Venice and the groups of tourists from other countries. There was no charm, no life, in the descriptions of Venice.

The plot is completely predictable.You know "whodunnit" at the beginning because you are told, you know the "bad guy" will get caught in the end because they nearly always do, and no step in the middle will surprise you.Why it is called a Homer Kelly mystery is perhaps the biggest mystery of the book.His character is completely passive, and nearly always absent.He could have been omitted from the book entirely without changing the plot.

This book also has one of the world's longest endings.The plot lines have been resolved, everybody lives happily ever after, and you still have about 45 minutes of tripe; nothing that adds to the enjoyment of the book.

If you are the type of person who pays the slightest bit of attention to plot details, this book will have more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.I usually don't notice little mistakes the author might make, but there were so many things that made no sense or didn't ring true that we were groaning out loud.

Don't waste your time on this one!

Things that didn't work at all:

1.Homer has been reading through ancient books for days/weeks.We don't really get told what he's doing except that he seems to be completely absorbed and is allowing his wife time to have adventures of her own.Then we see him reading a book that he thinks has three different styles of handwriting, and he asks Sam, the expert, about it.Sam tells him that the book is in three different languages: Greek, Hebrew and Latin.A college professor who can't recognize Greek and Latin?Anybody who has been staring at these books full time for days/weeks who can't recognize Greek and Latin?Gimme a break.

2.What are they doing in Venice, anyway?When the book opens, Mary doesn't even remember this guy from Venice, who invites them over for 6 weeks to stay at his house.Homer loves old books but knows nothing about them.Not much of a reason for this grand trip.

3.Mary is running from a bad guy with a gun.They are in a public square with 1000's of tourists and locals everywhere, he doesn't have the nerve to shoot her in public, but she doesn't even bother to call for aid.

4.Mary runs off joyfully with no boots on.Later, without going home, she suddenly has boots on.


Hole #334,343: a medical doctor tries to murder somebody.He has carefully killed before, leaving no detail untended.She falls into a pool of her own blood.He leaves, satisfied, without checking to see if she is dead.She's only been shot in the arm and was just grazed by the bullet.How could he not check to see if she is dead?If there was an instant pool of blood, how did she survive for hours without medical treatment, only requiring a little cleanup by a friend? They mention a tourniquet, but this would not have been adequate to save both her and her arm.

Can a reader really believe that a world famous Catholic church would let somebody take its sacred relics home for examination?They might allow them to be examined, maybe removed to a university or lab, but not taken home "on loan" for a month.Also, if you had an extremely valuable item in your home that went missing, and you had house guests that you barely knew, wouldn't they be on your list of suspects?Not in this book.

A doctor can poke somebody in the belly and instantly determine that all of his cancer has miraculously disappeared?

3-0 out of 5 stars Acqua alta

Venice, city of mystery, filled with great art, ancient religious relics, churches, and, sometimes, sea water. In The Thief of Venice, Homer attends a rare book conference and Mary sets out to acquaint herself with the dreamlike city. Her dreams turn into nightmares when she is pursued by a handsome but nefarious oncologist whom you know, eventually will turn on her. The subplot, about the conference director's quest to examine relics from San Marco for authenticity, also involves a love interest, and a very precocious little girl. The denouement, as both threads converge, is a satisfying one.

Author Langton is hard put to stick with her literary theme in this outing, but she certainly is spot-on with her characters, not only Homer and Mary but also the ancillary figures: the overbearing American mother-in-law, the greedy doctor, the new Procurator of St. Mark's. The Thief of Venice is not one of the stronger tales in this series, being somewhat fragmented with its rapidly switching chapters and subplots. Suffice it to say that there are two current thieves and quite a few historic ones. But it's a light, fun romp through Piazza San Marco and some of the lesser known neighborhoods of La Serenissima, with a smattering of history and culture.

3-0 out of 5 stars A wrong turn for Langton series
I am a fan of the Homer Kelly mysteries, but this one bothered me due to the completely atypical behavior of one of the characters. If this development had been explained or had been more central to the story line, it would have made for a better book. But Langton detonates this bizarre plot point without worrying about the shrapnel. Those unfamiliar with the series/characters will probably not find it as problematic.
That said, the other elements of the mystery and the visualization of Venice are well-executed and carefully researched. The line drawings bring the Piazza San Marco and other Venetian landmarks to life, as in a private travel journal.

3-0 out of 5 stars different . . .
I've always liked the civility and intelligence of the Homer Kelly series.I'm not happy with Ms. Langton's use of "f-bombs".Also, Mary's infidelity is not in keeping with the tone of this series.

These simply do not fit in with the rest of the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite A Bit Different
Having read almost all of the Homer Kelly mysteries by Jane Langton, I was surprised by this one. Not only does it take place outside the normal venue, but as well, Homer plays a very small part in the book, with Mary doing most of the detecting. As usual, Ms. Langton does an excellent job of wrapping up several seemingly disparate plotlines into one tidy ending. The descriptions of Venice are interesting, although at times are rather more like a list of attractions rather than true descriptions. All in all, not the best of the series; but even when not the best, a Jane Langton book is better than most in the genre. ... Read more

5. Dark Nantucket Noon: A Homer Kelly Mystery
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 304 Pages (1981-07-30)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$3.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140058362
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thisis a WONDERFUL book!!
I love this book. I just finished it...for the second time. It is beautifully written. The mystery almost takes a back seat to the fantastic descriptions of Nantucket, and sea and shore. I found myself delving into Rachel Carson and websites about marine life, while reading it. Jane Langton is one of my favorite authors because her books make you think about so much more than just the mystery. They introduce you to wonderful aspects of the universe that you never thought about before. i have read them all...including her "children's" books. This is one of my favorites.

4-0 out of 5 stars Almost Too Well Written
I say that this book is almost too well-written because Jane Langton has such an intimate knowledge of the topic of this mystery that it put parts of the book over my head.Langton has really done her research here, with all of the details and maps of Nantucket, the Biblical and Moby Dick references, and the details of sea ecology and tides.

Some of this information was a little too complex for the non-seafarer, especially regarding the sea ecology and tides.I admit that I skimmed some of it, and I believe I came away from the story with the same understanding of the murder mystery.

In general, I recommend this book.If you are perplexed by the jargon as I was, skim over those parts and enjoy Kitty Clark, Homer Kelly, and the menagerie of characters presented in this well-told tale.

This is the second book I have read in the Homer Kelly series.I loved The Escher Twist, and I will probably read another of Langton's books in the future.Even if it is full of over-my-head jargon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, literate mystery
Homer Kelly has come to Nantucket to complete his study of the men who sailed with Melville.When poetess, Katherine Clark, is arrested for the murder of her ex-lover's beautiful new wife, Homer is asked to help find the real murderer. As he investigates, it turns out that the beautiful new wife, Helen Boatwright Green was keeping secrets that someone would kill to protect.When you read some of her descriptions, especially those involving the natural world, there is a lovely moment of recognition, of her descriptions being exactly right.This is the second in her Homer and Mary Kelly series and is considered to be her best novel by many critics.

2-0 out of 5 stars Hard to read
This is the first book I have read by this author.I began reading this at the beginning of our vacation to New England.I almost didn't make it past the first chapter.I stuck it out another chapter to meet the main character Homer Kelly.That made it bearable.

I must say that this is not one of my favorite books.I just didn't feel that the characters flowed with each other.I especially did not like Kitty Clark who was accused of the murder.She was too flighty for me.

Homer Kelly, a former lieutenant-detective and academic, was her attorney.He is the main character of this series.I did like him.So I will try another book in this series in time.I hope that not all her books are written in this same way.

There just wasn't any connection between the characters and maybe that's the way this story needed to be told in her opinion, but I felt it was too disjointed and Kitty had no "confidant" friend other than her attorney whom she had just met.

I prefer a series where you really get to know the characters...

The setting as I stated is on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.Kitty has come there to view the eclipse, as have many other people.She stumbles upon a dead woman at the lighthouse who happens to be Joe Green's wife.Kitty and Joe Green had an affair before Joe was married.She is still in love with Joe and had tried to NOT run into him on the island.Kitty is accused of the murder because of this history and the fact that she is found by the dead woman with a knife in her hand.Homer Kelly comes to her aid and helps her unravel the truth.

2-0 out of 5 stars Weak Book by Good Author
Jane Langton's series of Homer Kelly mysteries is excellent; this book isweak. The characters are thin, the plot is disappointing, the atmospherelacks her usual charm. Langton's a very enjoyable writer, but this bookdoes not demonstrate it.

If you've read and enjoyed the others, you'llprobably want to read this to complete the series. If you haven't read anyof her books yet, pick a different one. ... Read more

6. Emily Dickinson Is Dead: A Homer Kelly Mystery
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 256 Pages (1985-07-02)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$34.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140077715
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Emily Dickinson noted "death's tremendous nearness" in one of her poems.Of course, she'd been dead 100 years when her admirers came to Amherst to celebrate her at a memorial symposium.

Among them was Homer Kelly, distinguished Thoreau scholar and ex-detective, who had himself dealt with murder -- a form of death -- in the past.To his amazement he finds himself once again embroiled in sudden death when murder stalks the symposium. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Emily Dickinson is dead but this book is not!
I've read several Jane Langton mysteries and this one and "The Transcendental Murder" are so far my favorites. The sly humor and colorful characters are so interesting and entertaining, that the mystery for me became almost a sideshow. Jane Langton is at her best here in her depiction of eccentric characters and portrayal of puffed-up academic types. But she pokes only gentle humor, never mean or malicious.

I liked the book so much, I was sad when I finished. That is a sign of a good book!

5-0 out of 5 stars A perfect blend of personalities
I wonder if there is a writer more perfectly suited to exploit Emily Dickinson than Jane Langton simply becuz Jane has qualities that evoke Emily -- a beautifully disciplined tone, New England quaintness, mixed with a sparkling imagination. That's in addition to the plot of this novel which is a complex mystery surrounding a newly unearthed photo of a woman who might be Emily Dickinson (in addition to the one irrefutable photo which exists). It's set in Emily's hometown of Amherst during a symposium where conflicts abound. Jane gives this story a mixture of wry humor and homespun drama, and she contributes her own line drawings. This is for those types of people who prefer quiet, thoughtful movies to loud, blazing action one. I found this novel pure joy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Mystery!
As a life-long resident of Amherst, I was thrilled to see the sketches of familiar places, and read in such vivid detail a beautifully written persective of my town.A wonderful, wonderful mystery as well.Guaranteed to tickle the funny bone as well as keep you on the edge of your seat!
Well done, Ms. Langton!

5-0 out of 5 stars Emily Dickinson Lives!
I chose the book because a friend is an Emily Dickinson fan, I'm a mystery fan, I was charmed by the author's sketches, and delighted by the snippets of Dickinson's poetry.What a fine discovery!The characters are complex,subtle, and interesting.The college town setting is vivid. The plot hadunexpected twists and turns that kept me guessing.I learned somethingabout the workings of dams and reservoirs, and I learned something aboutEmily Dickinson and her poetry, enough so I followed up "EmilyDickinson is Dead" by reading her biography. This was my first JaneLangton book. She has managed to do what a lot of writers only aspire to --her writing is so transparent I forget the story and setting were coming tome through print on a page.

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Characters tangled in a Whimisical plot
I have to totally disagree with the previous review. I found this Homer Kelly mystery refreshing and fully of marvelous characters full of human foibles. The descriptions were subtle but often verged on the hilarious.This is the book that hooked me on Jane Langton. It's too bad that theprevious reader did not read the dust jacket before purchasing this book.It very clearly identifies itself as a mystery and not an study in EmilyDickinson. It's not surprising that she did not enjoy the book since itmocks stuffy Emily Dickinson scholars. But I found this book to be askillfully written romp in weakness of human nature. ... Read more

7. Murder at the Gardner : A Novel of Suspense: A Homer Kelly Mystery (Penguin Crime Monthly)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 368 Pages (1989-02-07)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140113827
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Tadpoles in the fountain lead to murder in the corridor of Boston's IsabellaStewart Gardner Museum. The trustees call in Homer Kelly, ex-cop and Harvardlecturer, to solve the case. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars True to life and death

I was at the Gardner last year, and they sell signature-bound paperback books about the museum in the gift shop, which they recommend to potential buyers as souvenirs of the experience.

I bought one of those books, but personally, I think they ought to sell copies of this novel there, since it's also a wonderful way to relive the experience of the museum. Between the vivid descriptions of the space itself, the well-drawn illustrations (done by the author, a woman of many talents), and a gripping plot, this novel has it all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping plot and delightful story
What I like most about reading Jane Langton's Homer Kelly novels is that I get to enjoy a gripping plot while at the same time learning something.With this book, I got to learn about the Gardner Museum while I enjoyed the suspenseful story.And her murder mysteries are set in interesting and genteel places, so that I get the benefit of the suspense without having to feel like my soul is being dragged through all the darkest places in human consciousness.Ms. Langton's writing style is also very pleasant, and I enjoy the pace of her stories.I select her books when I want to be pleasantly entertained.

2-0 out of 5 stars Predictable mystery
I picked this book up because I love both Boston and the Garder Museum. The author has clearly done her research. Unfortunately, it shows a bit too much. I read it three days after I visited the Gardner; I found myself wishing I'd read it before, so that I could bring it along to use as a guidebook. It sometimes felt as though the exposition on how Wonderful and Fabulous the Gardner Museum is (which it is) and where the Vermeer is placed (which I'm sure is correct) got in the way of the plot.

I should also say that I'm not a big fan of mystery novels where the killer is revealed early on. This was not a tightly-wound psychological mystery, so I REALLY wasn't a fan of the fact that the reader was more or less told who the killer was long, LONG before the conclusion of the book. It was a procedural. And I was thinking, "Okay, I know who did it, get to the point already."

That was a general problem with a lot of the plot-- things were a little bit too telegraphed for my taste, although I think that's a matter of personal preference. We're told who is in love with who, and we're given minor characters that are more stereotypes than anything else. When their stereotypical qualities start having a bearing on the plot, it irritates me, since these qualities are those that are not possessed by normal people out in the real world. Similarly, a bequest figures heavily in the book, and a big part of it is that no one knows what the bequest really will be. I-- let's just say I found myself wondering about whether or not the denoument of that plotline would ever have been played out in an actual museum.

On the other hand, I was really really anxious by one of the climactic moments of the book, which has more to do with the Gardner than the mystery, although a little of both. I was biting-my-nails anxious, even though I knew that the scene didn't really happen in the Real Life History of the Gardner. I love that museum, I really do. And certainly the book provides a nice overview of the place and its history and its eccentric but well-intentioned founder.

5-0 out of 5 stars lyrical and involving
Jane Langton's mystery novels always present a detailed and engrossing picture of a small, intricately structured world and the people in it (here, the Gardner Museum in Boston).Her writing style is hard to describe -- it's seemingly effortless, yet lyrical at the same time, with hidden secondary meanings sprinkled here and there.A really fine book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lyrical combination of mystery and art
I was amazed to see that this book had only received one bad review.This is a wonderful book - one in a series of mysteries with a loveable absent-minded professor who speaks his mind and bumbles into all sorts ofmischief while solving complex murders.The author also adds her owndrawings, which are a nice touch. I highly recommend all the Homer Kellymysteries-I have read them all - if you like your mysteries to have someweight too them.Not too fluffy, but not overly erudite either. ... Read more

8. The Diamond in the Window (The Hall Family Chronicles)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 272 Pages (1973-10-31)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$88.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064400425
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A very unusual house...

Eddy and Eleanor Hall have always known that their family was a bit out of the ordinary. After all, they live in one of the most remarkable houses in all of Concord. But they never guessed just how extraordinary their house really is, or what tremendous secrets about their family's past it holds. That is, until they discover the magical attic room with its beautiful stained-glass window, abandoned toys, and two perfectly made-up, empty beds that seem to be waitingperhaps for two children just like themselves....

... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

4-0 out of 5 stars Has LSD-like dream sequences, but in a good way!
This is my second (after "Island of the Blue Dolphins") in a series of childhood favorites I'm rereading. Once again, I was absolutely delighted. Set in what appears to be turn-of-the-century Concord, Massachusetts, its dream sequences get a little LSD-like in places, but still, a wonderful book. I had no idea, but author Jane Langton has seven more titles in the series, the Hall Family Chronicles, the most recent one being released in 2008.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books as a child - and just read to my daughter
I have always remembered this as my favorite childhood book but I couldn't have told you exactly why until 2 weeks ago.I read an incredible amount but I am quick to admit that I am horrible at remembering exact details, characters.I just re-read this book - after probably 35 years?!! - to my daughter who is 7.She could have read it herself, but I WANTED, I NEEDED to read it when I saw the book at our local library.I just gasped - I remembered how I felt when I read it.It was just an incredible book. And we LOVED it.It was painful to only read a chapter a night! We both wanted to devour the whole thing at once.We ended up reading more at the end.I think the last night we read 3, or perhaps 4 chapters?It's a fantastic book - even better than I could have remembered, if I had remembered exactly...I didn't grow up in the area, but my parents live in Lincoln now so it is ironically even "closer to home" now.But knowing the places doesn't matter for a child. It is a magical book for any thoughtful child.So clever and fascinating, so engaging.

5-0 out of 5 stars Passing it down
My favorite book as a child.Hoping to pass it down to a niece.

5-0 out of 5 stars American Classic Fantasy
The Diamond in the Window is a book that speaks to one's very soul.It is American down to every syllable in the book, but open to the universe of experience.

It was in my elementary school library in a small town in Nebraska and I read it at least four times and hated leaving elementary school because I could no longer borrow the book.

I had never heard of Thoreau and Emerson, but this book grounded me in their philosophy.I own a copy now, since I learned that the publishers would allow this book to go out of print periodically.The Swing in the Summerhouse, its excellent sequel was not published in paperback for a generation.

As a Children's Librarian, I am trying to keep some of these neglected classics on the shelf of the New Orleans Main Library.Joan Aiken, Edward Eager, and Jane Langton are my favorites.They are not always as accessible to kids but I hope to find adults who appreciate humor, fantasy, and adventure who join me in buying these authors and keeping them in print.

The Diamond in the Window has remarkably clearly drawn characters.Langton has continued to add to the series in the forty or so years since Diamond was first published.Diamond poses that quintessential American conflict between philosophy and nature and crass commercialism in the situation of the Hall Family about to lose their home, which is also a small college teaching Transcendentalism.

The Hall children experience fantastic adventures based on Thoreau and Emerson.Years ago I had a reference question about "The Chambered Nautilus" chapter of Diamond in the Window--an adult who was desperate to re-read it but had forgotten the title and author.My boss was astounded that I knew immediately that it was Jane Langton and the Diamond in the Window or Swing in the Summerhouse.So I am not the only adult with intense attachment to this book.

Shame on Harper Trophy for making it cycle in and out of print.Cheers to Jane Langton for her creation!She also writes the Homer Kelly series of mysteries.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Truly Remarkable Book
Fourteen years ago, my mother read this book to me, and it is something I have never quite forgotten.Sure, many of the chapters' images were lost to the background of my mind.But I remembered the book's sense of adventure and the magic behind its words.Hearing my mother read it, its story was completely enthralling and its characters were real to me.Also, many of its images did stick with me and, when I have tried, I could always call them fondly to mind.Now, fourteen years have passed and, having re-read it, I am just as impressed as I was, before.But now, having also read selections from Emerson and Thoreau, I was also amazed by how much transcendental philosophy is packed into this book.Reading it can be a real learning experience, even though it doesn't feel like that at all.It feels like a great, fast read, with wonderful characters and an incredible tale.Why did I choose to re-read it?Two weeks ago, I was considering my life, trying to figure out what path to choose, and I realized that I was picturing this book's character, Eddy, staring into a mirror. (You'll probably know what I'm talking about after you've read this book.)Anyway, this one of the best children's books EVER!You should read this! ... Read more

9. The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles, Book 4)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 224 Pages (1981-03-25)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$2.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064401219
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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If there's one thing Georgie Hall has always been, it's determined.

So when her stepcousins Eleanor and Eddy tell her that she can't fly, Georgie doesn't get discouraged -- she just tries harder She feels a peculiar lightness when she leaps from the top of the staircase, and is even more certain of her seemingly impossible ability when she jumps from the porch and soars to the rooftop before landing safely on the ground. And now that a mysterious Canada goose is visiting Georgie's window on a nightly basis, the Hall family begins to wonder just what Georgie is capable of....

... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
I read this book 20 years ago as a 9-10 year old and it is still one of the books that moved me most as a child.I read an enormous amount as a kid but this book is always the first that comes to mind when I look back.I remember not being able to put it down in spite of its length and having vivid dreams that I could fly the entire time I was reading it.There is a sad segment of the story, as is true of other award winning children's books like Bridge to Terabithia. But this should not discourage a well-adjusted fourth or fifth grader from reading it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book
The Fledging is a wonderful and imaginative fantasy with a very moving ending. It's about an eight year-old girl who discovers she can fly. I enjoyed it very much, mainly because of its wonderfully structured plot. I also think it has very good character structure. The descriptions are so vivid the characters seem alive. It's unique among all the books I've ever read (between realistic fiction and fantasy), though Harry Potter fans may enjoy it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book
The fledgling captivated me. The end was a little more unnatural I thought they could have made the green factor of the book a little bit bigger. I think since I didn't really like the beginning so I kind of skim read and missed parts where she was seeing she had a talent for flying and at first missed the connection between the Goose Prince and the Old Goose but then as the book got better, I went back and re-read the first parts and understood. Overall this is a must read. You have to read this book because the characters make you care. You want Georgie, the main character, to fly. You don't want Mr. Preek to hurt the bird.

1-0 out of 5 stars Huge disappointment
Fortunately (judging from another review that said this book had a violent, tragic ending) we didn't get past the first half of the book. We had high hopes for the book, but my daughter and I both thought the writing was tiresome and heavy-handed and the characters and their conversations seemed false, contrived.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Healing
This is the story of a young girl who knows she can fly, and finds a friend in a goose who teaches her more than just how to have wings.

This is one of the first books I remember reading about the true cost of living outside of harmony with nature. It's a tender, beautiful book that talks about how frail dreams are, and how fragile the world can be, but also the strength of both nature and the human heart. It's been out of print for years, but touched me deeply when I read it at age 10. I'm 30 now, and it has stayed with me all these years. Bittersweet is the best word for it.

If your child is ok with the events of Charlottes Web, they will be able to handle this. Yes there is tragedy here, but there is also great beauty and strength and the use of wonder and fantasy is well paired with the ecological message...which never gets heavy handed or preachy.
... Read more

10. Divine Inspiration: A Homer Kelly Mystery
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 416 Pages (1994-09-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$7.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140173765
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jane Langton returns with her "most inventive and exhilarating Homer Kelly mystery" (New York Times Books Review). At a church in Boston, an abandoned baby suddenly appears. Who is he? Organist Alan Starr and Homer Kelly team up to find out--with possibly deadly results. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Divine Pipe Organ Mystery
This is one of the finest murder mysteries I have ever read.It reminded me of the old Margaret Rutherford movies from the 60's - based on Agatha Christie novels.The incorporation of the pipe organ into the plot is an added component of value for we professional organists.A great read

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite Homer Kelly mystery
I had read several of Jane Langton's Homer Kelly mysteries when I first read Divine Inspiration, but this book promptly became my favorite in that series. It's longer than most, it concerns a musical instrument I don't play, but this story of a powerful organ in a grand old church, competing organists and a controversial minister, secret loves and an adorable baby boy--all these elements are woven into one of the most engaging mysteries I've ever read. In solving the central mystery of the boy's missing mother, Homer and Mary--along with the intrepid Alan Starr--bring out the human warmth and zest for living in themselves and other offbeat, quirky characters, even in the face of disaster. A wonderful book to reread.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like Listening to Good Music
This book features organs and organ music as part of the goings-on. I am not musical at all but found all the information and descriptions of organs fascinating. The plot is slightly more plodding than other Langton books, but it's like listening to good music - give it time and you will get pulled into it, and then be very glad of it!

The mystery itself and the characters are entertaining and in true Jane Langton style. There are the usual colorful and eccentric people, quirky incidents, and unexpected turns of events, but somehow it all ties together in the end in a very satisfying way.

This book comes in as a favorite for me after Langton's "Emily Dickinson Is Dead" and "The Transcendental Murder."

4-0 out of 5 stars A Divine Read
The hero of "Divine Inspiration" is an organist who is "voicing" a new organ just installed in a church damaged by a mysterious fire.He befriends a toddler who is making his way up the steps of the church one day, then locates the baby's home and discovers that the fatherless child's mother - herself an accomplished organist - is mysteriously missing.Our hero falls in love with both the child and the child's mother, whom he has never met except through her photos and mementoes in the baby's home.

Jane Langton's delightful Homer Kelly mysteries are just what the doctor ordered for a rainy afternoon.What makes these books special are, of course, her charming line drawings, her spellbinding plots, and her humor, which has a Dickensian ability to expose the pompous, the greedy, the pretentious.What distinguishes the Langton mysteries (apart from the line drawings) is that you always come away from them having learned something - in this case, all about organs, which was of particular interest to me."Divine Inspiration" is a divine read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Characters + Great Plot = Great Book
I was a bit reluctant to begin this Homer Kelly mystery - my third (after getting hooked with Escher Twist and then Dark Nantucket Noon).The reason for my reluctance was the subject matter - churches and organists.Sounded boring.I know very little about either of those things and couldn't imagine wanting to learn more.

Well, once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down!I loved the characters (Rosie, Alan, Pip, Charlie, Harold Oates, Barbara Inch, even Debbie Buffington), and I was completely taken by surprise at the end -- yet it all added up so perfectly.

In addition, I must mention once again that the illustrations really add to the book, especially with the look of the organs and the architecture.Because they are created by the author, they give a great insight into her perception as she is writing, yet she never reveals so much that your own imagination of the happenings is affected.

Kudos to another fine mystery by Jane Langton!I will be returning to the library for another Homer Kelly mystery ASAP. ... Read more

11. Natural Enemy: A Homer Kelly Mystery
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 28 Pages (1990-02-08)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$5.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140133933
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Edward Heron died gasping for breath, yellow-jackets swarming around him. Had his asthma finally killed him...or something more sinister?

Heron's death affects many people in his small New England community: spinster sisters, a real estate developer with an eye on Edward's property and a long time neighbor, Buddy Whipple.

Enter Homer Kelly, another neighbor, also a Thoreau scholar and an ex-detective. With the help of his nephew, an amateur naturalist, he goes to work on the case.

"Everything is just right. A wry perceptive talent at his best."(The New Republic) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Series!
I just finished rereading this book and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time. I absolutely adore Jane Langton's books. I have every one, including her series for children. I find the books enjoyable on so many levels. There's the mystery and you want to find out how the "bad guy" will finally be exposed. But then there is this whole other level. The books make you see the world in a different way. This book reminded me on "Charloote's Web", in that a spider's life is examined throughout the story. I just loved it. If you do too, read "Dark Nantucket Noon". That is my favorite!

4-0 out of 5 stars My first Homer Kelly mystery
I chose this book at the Library many years ago and liked it so much that I always look for a new Jane Langdon mystery and I am never disappointed when I find one. I have enjoyed following Homer and Mary as they grow older with me living life with humor and tolerance.I have loved the drawings found in each novel. May there be many more in this series in the future.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time on this one.
I am an avid fan of murder mystery books on tape so I looked forward eagerly to listening to my unabridged copy of "Natural Enemy".

From the beginning, the story was sluggish....so much so that the only reason I kept listening to it was that I'd paid for it and I didn't want to have wasted my money! Unfortunately, I am now finished with the book and find that I have wasted my time AND my money.

Some of the characters in the book are interesting and the "idea" of the story has some merit but it is way too drawn out and convoluted for my taste. Since the main character of the book is fascinated with entymology and the like, there are tedious descriptions of spiders, webs, flowers, trees in the nearby meadow, ad nauseum, that are related to situations in the story but are too contrived to be interesting.

I could have stopped reading at any moment and would not have cared what happened to any of the book's characters.
To be honest, I stopped just short of the end of the book. I couldn't take any more.

I don't usually leave negative reviews but this book has really earned it. ... Read more

12. Good and Dead (Homer Kelly Mystery)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 256 Pages (1989-09-01)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$4.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140126872
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Homer Kelly is back...a distinguished Thoreau scholar and professor of American literature, also an ex-detective for Middlesex County. But for now he's camped out at a small New England church, trying to figure out why so many parishioners are ending up dead so soon.

Homer's job is to untangle murders from natural death. He finds the flock, so devout on Sundays, capable of breaking most commandments the other six days.

"Keeps you on edge from start to finish." (Publisher's Source) ... Read more

13. The Deserter: Murder at Gettysburg
by Mrs. Jane Langton, Jane Langton
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2003-06-09)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312301863
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From the winner of Bouchercon's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Nero Wolfe Award, and a Newbery Honor Award, a baffling, lavishly illustrated new Homer Kelly extravaganza Most of the Harvard men who were killed at Gettysburg died as valiant heroes. But according to Mary Kelly's family lore, one of her ancestors was a deserter. In setting out to clear his name, Mary and her husband, the brilliant and lovable Pro-fessor Homer, uncover what may have been a very dastardly deed indeed. An intriguing blend of superbly researched fact and fiction, Jane Langton's seventeenth Homer Kelly mystery will be hailed as one of the stellar achievements of a distinguished career. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mystery with a twist
Jane Langton is, simply, excellent. This book is a departure for Langton - it takes place partly in present time, with Homer and Mary Kelly trying to track down the story of one of her ancestors, a presumed Civil War deserter. At the same time we read the real story as it happened almost 150 years ago. In the end, Homer and Mary almost get it right. A great read, whether you're a Civil War buff or not.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very little Homer and Mary in this one
This book is indeed a 'Homer Kelly' mystery (the seventeenth in the series), but Langton's serial detective has very little to do in "The Deserter."In another of her mysteries, Langton has a character refer to the 'deep well of the past.'In "The Deserter," we are IN that well, glancing occasionally upward at dimly gesticulating characters from the present.The author could very well have left Homer and Mary out of this book, and still have told an interesting story about the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath.

Normally I avoid books about the American Civil War like the plague.Even Langton's patented touches of light humor, e.g. the dance hall babe in beribboned knickers, failed to brighten up this book with its piles of sawed-off limbs, frightened young soldiers, and putrid corpses.

The plot overlay involves Mary's effort to clear the name of her great-great-grandfather, who was accused of deserting his regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg.We slip backward a hundred and fifty years and learn that Lieutenant Seth Morgan was actually killed by one of his own soldiers, who then swapped uniforms and identities with him and hightailed it for Baltimore.Seth's pregnant wife Ida searches the temporary hospitals and morgues for her husband's body and is finally told that Seth deserted.

Ida is the real heroine of this book, although she never learns the actual fate of her husband (that has to wait for Homer and Mary).She is one of Langton's typical heroines:slightly shabby and made bulky by her growing baby, but upright, determined, and very likeable.Her sixteen-year-old brother is sent to bring her back home to Massachusetts and enlists in the Union Army, instead.

Ida stumbles across her brother dying of typhoid fever in Washington D.C.'s Patent Office, which has been converted into a temporary hospital (the author admits that she knew the Patent Office was no longer used as a hospital by the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, but she was so charmed by the location that she fudged just a bit in her otherwise historically accurate account).Ida herself is about to give birth, and the man she thinks is her husband, Seth has pranced off to music hall stages unknown with his bubbly mistress.

Actually, this is one of the more cheerful passages in "The Deserter."

This will never be my favorite Langton, but it is still worth reading if you are a fan of this mystery/history author."The Deserter" is illustrated with drawings and nineteenth-century photographs of the real places where her fictional characters played out their very serious lives.The portrait-photographs that Langton 'borrowed' for her protagonists are especially haunting--all of those young lives despoiled by a dark, desperate civil war.

A sequel to "The Deserter," called "Steeplechase" will be published by St. Martin's Press in November, 2005.

4-0 out of 5 stars A very good historical, but not a mystery
This is a good book. But it's not really a mystery in the Homer Kelly series. Homer Kelly is an incidental character here. His wife Mary is somewhat more important. But the most part of the book takes place during the Civil War, and there's no mystery - we are told fairly quickly who murdered whom and why. The only mystery involved is Homer and Mary's finding out about it, and even that is not much of a mystery - everything is in the archives somewhere.

That said, I enjoyed the book a lot. Much of it is epistolary in style - letters written between the characters. I like that style. There are terrific photographs of the characters in the book who happen to be real people. There are some very funny moments featuring Mary's cousin-somewhat-removed (and somewhat loony), Howard Ebenezer. And at the end there is a bit of the humor aimed at the foibles of academia that often characterizes the series - but only a little bit, not enough to be annoying, as has happened in some of the other books.

In fact, much of what has gotten a little trite or grating in the series is missing from this book, *because* Homer is only incidental to it. So many people might in fact find this book better than the last few they've read in the series.

For some of the books in this series, it matters whether you've read the previous books; for this one, it doesn't. You can read this one even if you've not read any of the others, and then if you like this, you might want to try others in the series. If you particularly like the Civil War aspects of it, you might also wish to follow up with Sharyn McCrumb's "Ghost Riders" (ISBN: 0451211847).

In sum: worth reading, a good story, but don't expect as much about Cambridge and Harvard as is usual in this series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ida's Story
The Deserter is the best plotted Jane Langton mystery in the whole Homer Kelly series.People who normally avoid her novels because there isn't enough mystery should give Ms. Langton another chance.You'll be following the developments with interest up to the last pages of the book.

A typical Homer Kelly novel pretty much gives the mystery away in the first few pages, and the focus is on how Homer or his wife Mary will find out what really happened.They usually bumble around quite a bit, and their efforts are more amusing than brilliant.What makes most of the novels appealing is their rich intellectual development of an interesting thinker and period in time.

In The Deserter, the excellent aspects of that approach are retained while interesting new aspects are added.I was very much impressed with these changes.

In the Deserter, the reader is presented with the same mystery that Mary Kelly has:What shameful thing happened to her great great grandfather, Seth Morgan that no one in the family wants to talk about?In the course of pursuing that mystery, Ms. Langton adds a second one for Ida Morgan, Seth's pregnant wife, during the Civil War.Where and how is he?Ida reads that he's listed as missing in action at Gettysburg, and wants to find out what happened.

The story has several narrators including Homer, Mary and Ida.In addition, you'll meet and listen to the story of Private Otis Pike, a member of the Harvard Class of 1860 and fellow Hasty Pudding Club member along with Seth and several of the other officers in the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at Gettysburg.

The book is filled with fascinating details of how the fallen Harvard men were remembered and honored by their school, the conduct at Gettysburg for this infantry unit, how the dead and wounded were handled, and the records involving the unit.Much of the details involving Gettysburg will evoke The Red Badge of Courage for you.The details are enriched by period photographs, reproductions of period documents and quotes from famous people involved in the Civil War.In a final note, Ms. Langton tells you where all of these people and details were derived.

As a story telling device, Ida's search for Seth is marvelous and provides many interesting insights into war's aftermath.

The book will have special appeal to those whose relatives died in the Civil War as well as to Harvard people who have stared up at those stone tablets in Memorial Hall.

After you finish this outstanding book, I suggest that you take the time to find out more about one of your relatives who is no longer with us.Naturally, if you have one about whom the family tries to avoid talking, you may bump into a fascinating story.But feel free to pick someone whom the family is proud of.Undoubtedly, you'll learn something important.Good luck in the archives and scrapbooks!

4-0 out of 5 stars fun contemporary investigation into that past
Many Harvard men died at the Battle of Gettysburg as part of the valiant 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers and in fact the university honors these heroes with a memorial hall listing them.However, not everyone behaved courageously as Mary Kelly tells her husband, Homer, a professor at the school.Her great-great grandfather Seth Morgan apparently deserted, but though her family refuses to talk about his cowardly behavior, Mary needs to know the truth about Seth.

Mary and Homer begin their investigation into her roots by visiting her sister Gwen, who lives in the ancestral home where family items have been stored for years in the attic.They learn that third cousin removed Ebenezer Flint took everything while Gwen and her husband was away.Deciding to continue their quest, Mary and Homer visit the college archives and follow that up with a trip to Gettysburg.From there they go to DC to visit Ebenezer as a story unfolds of cowardice, treachery, and murder on the eve of the pivotal Civil War battle.

Though the prime plot is the modern day inquiries into the Morgan family roots, intermingling throughout the tale is a superb subplot focusing on the key characters involving what happened to Seth.Thus, readers, once adjusted to the flashbacks, receive two delightful tales, of which either could have stand-alone.The prime protagonists, past and present, come through as genuine so that the audience receives a wonderful historical tale inside a fun contemporary investigation into that past.

Harriet Klausner ... Read more

14. Steeplechase: A Homer Kelly Mystery (Homer Kelly Mysteries)
by Jane Langton
 Hardcover: 304 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$7.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000VYM6P2
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In the latest Homer Kelly mystery, Homer and his wife Mary are engaged in a steeplechase, a pursuit of a mysterious lost church. Chapters alternate between present and past, and slowly the events of 1868 in the town of Nashoba unfold as a disabled Civil War vet tries to get back to normal. Central to the story is a gigantic tree, the Great Nashoba Chestnut. And crucially intermingled with its fate are a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff. In addition to the customary impeccable sleuthing, the author has provided numerous drawings and a number of nineteenth-century photographs. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The past is a mystery
Jane Langton has tapped in to a great theme: that the past is itself a mystery. We can never truly know what happened during any historical event, large or small, global or personal. And the "truth" is relative and subjective.

Bouncing back and forth between 1868 and the present heightened the suspense, and raised a philosophical question: does it matter how a past event actually happened? If it is lost in the mists of time due to misplaced evidence, burned records, faded photos, then hasn't the event itself changed in some way? History only exists in our collective recorded memory. And that is a fluid existence indeed, subject to new findings, new biases, and the inevitable decay and loss of all evidence.

Homer and Mary can only uncover what is there to be found. The rest they attempt to fill in with their considerable insight into human nature. I appreciate their practicality. Mysteries of dirty deeds in church cloisters may be fascinating, but these two never ignore lunch, or love, or their fellow humans in the here and now. Great role models, since the here and now is all we have, after all.

1-0 out of 5 stars Homer is a mystery
I enjoy discovering a new series and had never read the "Homer Kelly" books. However,I had a hard time getting a handle on"Steeplechase."It went back and forth between Homer and Mary in the present day, to the 19th century. With short chapters, it was especially difficult to hold my interest in either the present or the past, especially since I was having a hard time getting a handle on who Homer and Mary were.
I understand there were many previous books in the series. However, an author should realize a reader may be new to the series and give background information on the main characters. This was not the case.
I follow a series when I am interested in the main character. However, character development was nil.Who are Homer and Mary??? After I read this book, I knew Homer was a professor at Harvard, over 6 feet tall, and his previous published book, which achieved little success, has had current interest and is now at the top of the best seller list. There was absolutely no further informationon him and nothing about Mary, except that she was his wife and related to the 19th century characters. I don't even know what Homer taught or what his book was about.Hector is introduced in the first few pages. I never did find out who he was. Overuse of the word "whoopsie" made it sound like a children's book. Rather than "comedy" as a review described, it seemed silly. While the plot and symbolism in the 19th century part of the book could have beeninteresting, it was too late in the book to keep my interest.
I thought of reading earlier books in the series to see what it was about, but why bother. There are too many other books out there.

4-0 out of 5 stars Maybe the books in this series should be called Historical Mysteries ...
... because Homer and Mary Kelly are always delving into interesting stories from the past.This time, Homer is working on a book about church steeples found in and around Concord, Massachusetts.His editor wants him to uncover titillating scandals in the process, but Homer isn't finding many.In alternate chapters, we drop back to 1868, where a dispute between two ministers and their families is brewing in Nashoba, not far from Concord.It begins with a chestnut tree and ends in the division of one congregation into two.Readers are encouraged to stick with the unfolding of the historical text; it takes a commitment of time to figure out which characters to focus on.Gradually we see that what happened back then is exactly what Homer Kelly was looking for all along.Perhaps the savviest of readers will even understand the symbolism of wounded soldier James Shaw's interest in Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities."We're given a lot to digest in these pages.

Langton is good at several things here:showing single events from the perspective of multiple characters' views, and making fiction seem like nonfiction.By the end of the book, I was so curious about the historical revelation that I was ready to drive along Route 2A in search of a church-turned-pizza parlor in Nashoba.Alas, my search would have been fruitless, for not only did the author fabricate the historical episode unveiled in "Steeplechase," she also placed it in a fictional town.I wanted it all to be true!

3-0 out of 5 stars Please give us back Homer & Mary....no more history!
I can understand that J. Langton wants to branch out, probably bored with Homer and Mary.

But I read her for Homer and Mary, not history.

If she wants to write history, she should start a new series, not disappoint Homer and Mary fans.

I picked up this book at the bookstore, flipped it open to see more "history," and said outloud, "Oh, no." I did buy it, but was very disappointed and will wait for this kind of book to come to the library next time.

What I do is skim the history and read the parts with Homer and Mary.

5-0 out of 5 stars entertaining intelligent mystery
Harvard Professor Homer Kelly has the New York Times number one nonfiction seller, Hen & Chicks.His editor demands he write a follow-up immediately so he can stay on top while the iron is hot.Homer works on his next tome Steeplechase, a look at the historical churches of New England.His wife Mary persuades him to begin the treks starting in Concord and eventually nearby Nashoba.They will find post Civil War aerial photos by the Pratt brothers that showcase a church steeple and a great chestnut tree in Nashoba; while the steeple seems to have vanished without any references besides the pictures, the tree remains standing today.

In 1868 Nashoba, disfigured veteran James Jackson Shaw comes home wanting to simply die.He refuses to see any of his friends and barely tolerates the care of his wife Isabelle and his in-laws including Reverend and Mrs. Gideon.At the same time, Eben Fleet wants Isabelle as his while Ella Viles desires Eben.These disjointed relationships will collide near the Nashoba Chestnut tree that magnificently stands by the First Parrish Church.

In the shadows of Longfellow, STEEPLECHASE alternates chapters so that the audience sees the real events of 1868 vs. the Kelly interpretation of those same activities.This makes for an intriguing historiographic look at how each generation re-interprets the past.Though the 1868 saga is more gripping than the current times fans of a thought provoking, yet very entertaining intelligent mystery will appreciate the latest Homer Kelly thriller.

Harriet Klausner
... Read more

15. The Swing in the Summerhouse (Hall Family Chronicles, Book 2)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 208 Pages (1981-10-07)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$19.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064401243
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Keep Out!

When Prince Krishna is called away, he leaves behind some strict instructions for the Hall children about one of the openings in the mysterious summerhouse: Keep Out! As Eddy and Eleanor swing through each of the other openings, they refuse to break the rule, even as their temptation grows. But when Oliver and little Georgie disappear through the forbidden archway, Eleanor and Eddy know that they must either break their promise or risk never seeing their friends again.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sequel to Diamond in the Window just as Great!
It is a time of celebration when this book is re-issued.It was a tremendous book in the 1960s and then Harper Trophy has allowed it to languish.It has been back in paperback a couple of times since then.

The Hall Family Chronicles are set near Walden Pond and deal with themes of Henry David Thoreau and Emerson:transcendentalism.There is a prince from India who brings the magic of the far east to the Hall Family.The local banker and others keep trying to get the Hall Family home destroyed.

It is commerce and crassness versus wonder, experience, human connectedness, and respect for nature.It is also a tremendous amount of fun.These books are American classic fantasies and should be in every library collection.

There are few books available that deal with the ideas and ideals of this series.I would encourage any free-thinking parents to equip their children with these books.They will enjoy reading them as adults as much as they did as children.

I have read most of the Chronicles, hindered by the publishers schedule of re-issuing titles.I am deeply attached to the first two books that I read over and over as a child and found thrilling as an adult.The "newer" books I have read as an adult, so I can't judge what my 8 year old self would have taken out of them.I read the pro-tree and nature "Dragon Tree" series entry recently and adored it.

Langton also writes the Homer Kelly series of mysteries set around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally!But . . .
Yes!It's back in print . . . but nostalgia hounds, beware.The 2001 paperback edition does not include Erik Blegvad's illustrations (except for the frontispiece.)How unfortunate they chose to reprint it this way; the illustrations were such a huge part of what made this book special and memorable.Well, maybe the next edition will get the proper treatment this incredible book deserves.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reread Two Days Ago, Still Fun
I read the first three books of the Hall Family Chronicles when I was a girl.I was lucky enough to find hardcover copies of all three at the same library used book sale in 1982.I decided to reread them all again over this past weekend.

Prince Krishna has built a lovely summerhouse for Eleanor and Eddy Hall.This is no ordinary summerhouse.There's a magical adventure built into each archway.You enter the adventure by jumping off the swing.Once the magic starts, there's only so many swings until the summerhouse disappears forever.The bugs haven't been worked out of the last adventure before Prince Krishna has to fly back to his native country to avert war.Prince Krishna takes precautions by boarding up the archway, painting "KEEP OUT" on the boards, getting Eddy and Eleanor to promise they won't go through that archway, and not putting a swing in the summerhouse.

Prince Krishna's precautions are in vain.Eddy hangs a swing in the summerhouse.Of course Eddy wouldn't break his promise, but his obnoxious friend, Oliver, didn't promise anything.Oliver sees the "keep out" notice as a challenge.He swings until he breaks the boards with his feet, then sails off the swing -- and vanishes!What's poor Eddy going to do?Oliver's parents are very worried, but he can't tell them that Oliver jumped off the swing and disappeared into thin air.They'd think he was nuts.Eddy can't go through the SAME archway because of his promise, but that doesn't mean he can't go through the OTHER archways.

Meanwhile, Eleanor is very suspicious of Uncle Fred's new student, Mrs. Dorian, who has moved next door along with her little girl, Georgie, who isn't even in school yet. Eleanor is sure that Mrs. Dorian is a witch and has bewitched Uncle Freddy, because her uncle acts so silly around her.If you're older than Eleanor, you can probably figure out why.

Eleanor and Eddy don't get along as well as they did in THE DIAMOND IN THE WINDOW.Eddy has become a normal, messy boy who loves junk.He makes Eleanor so mad because she's become a prissy prig.Eleanor can hardly wait until she's old enough to wear pretty dresses and go to dances.She hates the fact that her uncle's school isn't making them rich because Uncle Freddy cares more about teaching than making money.Will the summerhouse show Eleanor the error of her ways?

My favorite archway adventure was "Make New Worlds".Sure, the man-castle and the big clipper ship were neat and the giant cash-register can teach you how much you're worth, but what's that compared to having the worlds you create come alive?(If you don't like the world of Princess Cinderellanor, wait until it's invaded by Eddy and Georgie's worlds!)

Time goes by.There's a tick-tock every time the swing is swung.All the adventures before the dangerous one have been tried, but Oliver is still missing.Eddy boarded up the archway after his friend disappeared, but Georgie is tempted.Georgie wants so much to be able to read and add two and two.Georgie is sure that she'll get what she wants if SHE breaks the boards and goes through.Will she?Of course she will.Who's going to rescue her (not to mention Oliver)?Eddy and Eleanor don't know it, but time is running out....

5-0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Hall Family Chronicle!
The magical Prince Krishna, who is uncle to Eddy and Elanor Hall, has built a summerhouse in their backyard. Eddy and Elanor are warned they may use any opening in the summerhouse except the one entitled "Grow Up Now." They agree, and hang a swing in the middle of the summerhouse. Eddy and Elanor use it to swing into all of the other openings, having magical adventures. But what happens when someone goes through the forbidden archway? Read this book and find out! It is suspenseful, well-written, and above all, a wonderful book. I highly reccomend to other kids, and any grown-ups who are young at heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books
This book had a great influence on me as a child. I found it in a library and read it to my own children. If it was back in print, I'd buy it in a second.

I highly recommend it. ... Read more

16. The Dragon Tree (The Hall Family Chronicles)
by Jane Langton
Hardcover: 176 Pages (2008-06-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$3.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060823410
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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One mystical tree. One dangerous neighbor.

Strange and magical things continually occur at the Hall family's home at 40 Walden Street. Now there's a terrible sound throughout the town of Concord—the buzzing of a chain saw. Only one thing is worse for Eddy and Georgie Hall than that noise: the man who causes it, Mortimer Moon. When all the trees in town are falling to his hand and he threatens the mysterious tree sprouting in the Halls' backyard, Georgie and Eddy will do anything to stop him.

In the eighth installment of the Hall Family Chronicles, secrets—all caused by the growth of a miraculous tree—will be unlocked.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Poorly written story!
Reviewed by Avery Largent (age 9) for Reader Views (9/08)

"The Dragon Tree" by Jane Langton is a story about a boy named Eddy, who one day finds a little tree shooting up in his yard, a so-called Dragon Tree.Although it sounds like a very interesting story idea, it resolves into something not quite as good. With underdeveloped characters, little description, and a meandering plot, this book appeared slightly unplanned.

The characters in this story seemed underdeveloped. In most books, each and every character normally has their own personality, and they say certain things that others would not. In this story, however, all the characters seem to be rather mixed up. For example, the main character, Eddy, sometimes says things that seem more likely for his uncle to say, or his neighbor, Emerald more likely to say what Eddy just said. Also, you never get to really know the characters.For instance, I don't really know anything about Eddy's feelings, wishes, or motivations.I believe Jane Langton could have put more work into her characters.

Beside the poorly-developed characters, there is very little description. In some stories, the author intends for it to be like that; you're not supposed to know what the people look like.However, I don't think it's meant to be like that in this story.It does not even say what the main character looks like. Come to think of it, the only one with the smallest bit of description is Emerald; the author only mentions her hair color. She also does not go into detail about the setting of the story.The story would have been more interesting with a little more description.

Even beside the underdeveloped characters and low description, the plot appears poorly planned.From reading the back cover, the title, and the beginning of the book, you would expect the book to be about a dragon tree, which sounds very exciting. By the end, however, it had resolved into something very uninteresting. I wish the author had included more about the dragon tree.By the end of the story, the actual dragon tree seemed squeezed into the story.If the plot had not been sidetracked from the original idea, it would have definitely been a lot better of a book.

Altogether, "The Dragon Tree" by Jane Langton is a poorly-written story. With underdeveloped characters, barely any description, and a poorly directed plot, I would not recommend "The Dragon Tree" to my friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Jane Langton is one of my favorite authors. I enjoy both the adult Homer Kelly novels, and the Hall Family chronicles, which are geared towards younger readers. They are all charming and thoughtful reading experiences, and this latest is no exception. I am hoping for a new Homer Kelly soon! ... Read more

17. Murder at the Gardner
by Jane Langton
 Paperback: Pages (1988)

Asin: B000YF6910
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18. The Memorial Hall Murder
by Jane Langton
 Paperback: Pages (1996-11-01)

Isbn: 0147711665
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jane Langton thrills us again
In this addition to Ms. Langton's wonderful Homer Kelly mysteries, she again leads us through a maze of personalities possibilities and well described places to a very satisfying conclusion.Even if you've never been to Cambridge, she makes it possible, with her descriptions and drawings to imagine yourself there. Her characters are, as always, imperfect but lovable.There are just the right balance of humor, suspense and philosophy that make Ms. Langton's books worth reading - again and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars This Gripping Story Takes Place During Rehearsals For A Christmas Performance
"The Memorial Hall Murder
By Jane Langton
8-1 hour audio cassettes
Read by Michael Prichard
Books On Tape, Inc.

THIS GRIPPING STORY TAKES PLACE DURING REHEARSALS FOR A CHRISTMAS PERFORMANCE of Handel's Messiah, and each chapter is introduced by a selection from his masterpiece.

When someone bombs Memorial Hall, Hamilton Down, the corpulent and beloved choir master, disappears in the rubble.

Fortunately on hand to help the local police set to work is Jane Langton's famous sleuth, Homer Kelly, present at Harvard as a visiting lecturer in American Literature.

Kelly carefully baits his trap.
It snaps shut during the Messiah's thrilling finale, a fitting conclusion to the story and a proper orchestration for justice."
[from the back cover of the audio cassette case]

4-0 out of 5 stars Humor & Suspense & Music & Harvard
This is the first Homer and Mary Kelly book that I've read. When I come across a mystery that I really enjoy, I try to read all the other books by the author. So I look forward to enjoying the other 16 mysteries that Jane Langton has written in this series.

If you like mysteries with lots of local color and humorous Tom Wolfe-like situations and observations, you won't be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enter Homer Kelly
This is the book that launched Jane Langton's fame as a mystery writer.She has written much since that time, but I suspect this may be her best work.It has a light touch, a really interesting mystery, and a nice background of Harvardiana and classical music.The university setting is well done, which is unusual among "murder on the campus" books. Current Harvard students may be a bit puzzled (Memorial Hall was completely redone in the mid-'90's, years after this book was published). The plot is expertly constructed, and there is a strong sense of place and time, which allows the reader to care about the action and the characters.I give it 4 stars rather than 5 because I reserve 5 stars for something like The Hound of the Baskervilles.... This book is disappearing from library shelves, but there are still a lot of used copies about. Buy one now, before they are gone, too!

5-0 out of 5 stars hilarious
This book is one of my favourites.It combines my liking for mysteries and love of classical music.Homer and Mary Kelly assist some students at Harvard to find their lost and loved professor.We follow the rehearsing of Handel's Messiah, and I laughed out loud by the description of a characters tries to learn the music, playing the violin.(probably not as funny for non musicians though)Good book. ... Read more

19. Murder at Monticello: A Homer Kelly Mystery (Homer Kelly Mysteries)
by Jane Langton
Paperback: 272 Pages (2002-01-29)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$25.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142000264
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
While visiting Monticello for the bicentennial celebration of Thomas Jefferson's presidency, Homer Kelly is disturbed to discover our third president in trouble with historians over the issues of slavery and Sally Hemings. Meanwhile, Thomas Dean, a mysterious trespasser, is disturbing the work of Homer's former student, Fern Fisher, who is struggling to restore Jefferson's reputation. On top of everything else, a serial killer who preys on young women is on the loose. When Tom Dean is arrested as a suspect, Homer, perpetual friend of the underdog, takes on his case. All of these intrigues converge at Jefferson's bicentennial celebration, where, from among the throngs of visitors, the killer has selected his next victim. Can Homer discover the killer's identity before the next attack? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars 2 1/2*Very Disappointed
The elements of a great mystery are here. A book that interweaves the issue of slavery, the questions around Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and the imperatives of the Lewis and Clark expedition with a story about a serial killer sounds promising, but the book does not deliver...There's simply not enough suspense or mystery here, the writing is often annoying, and the characters aren't very interesting.Perhaps some will enjoy this as a light read.Not recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Twist in the Tale
I am always impressed by the ability Jane Langton shows in each of her books to encompass varying subject matters in such details. This book uses the expedition of Lewis & Clark to intertwine various lives and loves. As usual with Homer Kelly books, the reader knows the culprit, or at least knows who did NOT do the crime(s). This book contains some rather brutal murders, although the subject is handled in the usual Langton finesse. Homer and Mary do not figure so very much in this episode, with much of the action centering on guest characters. It is, as always, well-written, and, also as always, the pencil drawings by the author add to the enjoyment of reading this book. All in all, this is a fine addition to the series and I am looking forward to reading the next.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Many Consequences of Obsessions
Before reviewing this book, let me warn potential readers that this book contains much off-color language and disgusting details of extreme sexual misbehavior.This is not your normal Jane Langton novel where some sedate professor performs a fairly clean murder.Instead, there is a relatively uneducated serial killer of a most disgusting sort involved.To me, the gross aspects of the serial killer were not essential to the story, and simply lessened the appeal of the book.

Almost all of the characters in Murder at Monticello are obsessed by some aspect of Jefferson�s life or of the Lewis and Clark expedition into the newly purchased Louisiana Territory.A July 4th celebration of the bicentennial year of Jefferson�s becoming the third president draws these characters to Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.While some characters are looking forward to the big fireworks show, others are planning to make their own fireworks.

The familiar Homer and Mary Kelly come down from Cambridge, Massachusetts at the invitation of a friend who offers them a free place to stay.A former student, Fern Fisher, is working on a new biography of Jefferson to help improve his reputation despite having been a slave holder and having possibly had sexual relations with one of his slaves, who was the half-sister of his deceased wife.Augustus Upchurch, a local benefactor of Jefferson studies, has helped raise the money to fund the book, but also becomes interested in Ms. Fisher despite the wide difference in their ages.Ms. Fisher sees apparitions of Jefferson in and around Monticello.Tom Dean, a local man who is about to enter medical school, is fascinated by Lewis and Clark, and through this meets Ms. Fisher and extends his interests to include her.The local police chief owns the Oxford English Dictionary and spends his free time looking up what the words in the Declaration of Independence meant in Jefferson�s time.The serial killer imagines himself being related to one of the men in the Lewis and Clark expedition, based on having been raised on the Missouri River in Bismarck, North Dakota.Homer Kelly starts reading up on Lewis and Clark.Each chapter begins with a quote from the expedition�s journals.

Like all Homer and Mary Kelly stories, there�s not much mystery here.There are simply tangled skeins of lives and story lines that overlap.The individual stories are more of an excuse to delve into a particular period of history than serious fiction.Being quite familiar with Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition, the only new knowledge that the book imparted were more details than I wanted to know about the sexual habits of the men on the expedition.

The overall theme of Murder at Monticello is that obsessions are bad for us, because they blind us to more positive opportunities to connect with others and more meaningful activities.

Unless you feel a compulsive need to read all of these stories by Ms. Langton, I suggest you skip this one.Of her recent efforts, I thought that Dead as a Dodo was far superior to Murder at Monticello.The ideas developed in that book about Darwin are far more interesting than the slim intellectual foundation of Murder at Monticello.

I do like Ms. Langton�s new habit of taking the Kellys to new locations outside of Massachusetts.I hope Ms. Langton continues this trend in her upcoming novels.

Search for the opportunities to expand goodness, and then act on them!

4-0 out of 5 stars Murder at Monticello Review By Falynne Kagy
Jane Langton has once again provided us with another gripping Homer Kelly Mystery. This, the fifteenth in the Homer Kelly series, is by far the best one that I have read. It has all of the twists and turns that you'd expect from Langton. Fern Fisher, an overweight, personality-challenged woman in her mid-twenties serves as the main character. Her purpose in the nocel is to write a book for the Thomas Jefferson of Monticello Society, which will clear all of the hurtfull rumors of the late President's affair with Sally Hemings and his views about slavery. The supporting characters include Tom Dean, a man caught trespassing in the woods surrounding the home of our third President, and George Dryer, a demented serial killer who is out to get revenge on all women who remind him of his ex-girlfriend, Jeannie. The book is very well written, and leaves the reader hanging on to the edge of their seat, waiting to see who the next victim will be, or if Dryer can be caught in time by Homer and the Charlottesville, Virginia Police Chief. The book was ordinary in the sense that it was very predictable when it came to the murder case. I knew before I even read that Fern was going to be one of the last people that George would try to kill, and that, most likely, he would not succeed. I would reccomend this book to any reader who likes the classic murder mystery, and has the time to read the book in a short amount of time, as it becomes confusing the longer you wait between reading sessions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Homer Kelly arrives during Virginia's serial killer season
There's a demented serial killer attacking women in Charlottesville, Virginia.But the timing coincides with the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's election to the presidency, and a huge celebration is planned to take place at Monticello on July 4th.Amidst both hubbubs, Homer and Mary Kelly arrive on the scene to visit friends in the area.Homer is naturally intrigued and wants to "help" the local police chief with the murder investigations.Prepare yourself for fast-break reading!Will Homer be able to nail the right man?Will a former med student finish work on his Lewis and Clark timeline in the Dome Room?Will a former student of the Kellys ever finish writing her grant-funded book about Thomas Jefferson?And what exactly is the relationship between the Lewis and Clark expedition and the man who buries bloody shirts in his backyard?

If you feel yourself wanting more, more, MORE! after finishing this book, move on to any Rita Mae / Sneaky Pie Brown mystery, or pick up _Guns and Roses_ by Taffy Cannon.The histories and the mysteries continue... ... Read more

20. Boyhood of Grace Jones
by Jane Langton
 Hardcover: Pages (1986-06)
list price: US$14.98
Isbn: 0807210625
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A young girl persists in being a tomboy despite the disapproval of her parents and classmates. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book is well written and great fun. My three children and i all enjoyed it very, very much. We are fans of all of Jane Langton's children's novels....

1-0 out of 5 stars The first book I ever hated
I read this book back when I was in grade school in the mid-'80s. It was the first book I ever read that I just couldn't stand. The ending made me very indignant, even at that tender age, and as time has passed, thisbook's message has become even more passe. ... Read more

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