THE DESERTER: Murder at Gettysburg: A Homer Kelly Mystery

Jane Langton, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/ Dunne $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-30186-6

Civil War buffs will especially appreciate Langton's 17th Homer Kelly mystery (after 2002's The Escher Twist), in which the Harvard professor/sleuth and his wife, Mary, plunge into research in an effort to exonerate Seth Morgan, Mary's great-great-grandfather, a Harvard man suspected of desertion at Gettysburg. In 1863, in the battle's aftermath, Seth's pregnant wife, Ida, an independent and hardy New Englander, desperately seeks her missing husband as far as Baltimore and Washington. Meanwhile, Seth's comrade-in-arms Otis Pike, "the witty darling of his class at Harvard," provides some comic relief with his tendency to skedaddle and his scandalous involvement with actress Lily LeBeau. Homer realizes that the key to the mystery of Mary's ancestor's seemingly shameful action lies in ascertaining the particulars of Seth's relationship to Otis. The suspense builds as the author adroitly shifts between past and present. Period photos, an 1860 playbill for the Hasty Pudding show, quotations from Walt Whitman and loads of Harvard lore add historical weight. Fans of this generally lighthearted series, though, should be prepared for some graphic description of the horrors of war. (June 2)

Forecast:Booksellers looking to observe the forthcoming 140th anniversary of Gettysburg can put this on display with Newt Gingrich's alternative history, Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War (Forecasts, May 12), as well as new nonfiction titles on the battle, such as Robert Clasby's Gettysburg: You Are There (Forecasts, March 10).

Reviewed on: 05/19/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 246 pages - 978-1-78408-655-8
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