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Death on the Mississippi (A Mark Twain Mystery) Paperback – December 1, 1995

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Bones Never Lie
Featured New Release in Police Procedurals

Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: The Berkeley Publishing Group; 1st edition (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425149390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425149393
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,260,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first novel, which launches a projected trilogy, Heck sets Sam Clemens and his secretary, Wentworth Cabot, a genial but non-too-clever Yale graduate, to sleuthing in a period costume drama that is more costume than drama. Just as Clemens leaves New York City on a lecture tour, police discover a dead man who has Clemens's address in his pocket and assign a detective to stick with the author until the murder is solved. Clemens, who mistrusts the detective, determines to "solve the damned thing myself," preferably before folks realize his tour plans include a stop to retrieve buried gold he discussed in Life on the Mississippi. Coincidentally traveling the same route, however, is "Slippery Ed" McPhee and his cartoonish thugs, known to Clemens from the past. When the party on the lecture tour is diminished by murder, it's time for Twain to summon the audience, take center stage and reveal all. Greed, deception and murder notwithstanding, this 19th-century tale meant to reflect Twain's robust stories is made bland by characters?including Clemens, who's reduced to a gruff but charming old boy?who are drawn from the outside in and remain imitations.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

If Benjamin Franklin can solve murder mysteries, why not Samuel Clemens as well? First novelist Heck follows Clemens on a speaking tour during the 1890s as the popular humorist investigates a murder connected to his past on the Mississippi. Narrated by the young William Wentworth Cabot, his new travel secretary, this catchy adventure features a treasure hunt and showcases Clemens's knowledge of the river as well as his gift of gab. This first of a projected trilogy is a well-done historical and is therefore recommended.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Peter Heck is the author of the "Mark Twain Mysteries," six novels featuring the famous author as a detective, set in the 1890s. He is also co-author (with the late Robert Asprin) of four books in the "Phule's Company" series of comic military SF novels..

Before setting out as a novelist, Peter worked as an editor at Ace Books and has freelanced for Baen and Del Rey, editing Spider Robinson, Robert Sawyer and Harry Turtledove (among others). Before that, he created the SF newsletter Xignals and its mystery equivalent Crime Times for the Waldenbooks chain. He is also a long-time reviewer for Asimov's Science Fiction.

Peter is currently a reporter and photographer at the Kent County News in Chestertown, Maryland, where he grew up. His beats include local government and the arts. He also plays lead guitar in a local band, Col. Leonard's Irregulars, and is a founding member of the Chestertown chess club.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By on April 28, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Peter J. Heck's lifelong interest in Samuel Clemens (and his nom de plume, Mark Twain) has here fostered a new series of historical mysteries featuring the esteemed American writer, accompanied by the fictional Wentworth Cabot, who narrates the books.

Murder dogs Clemens and Wentworth Cabot prior to and during the Mississippi riverboat lecture tour that is the centerpiece of the story. The description of the towns Clemens and Cabot encounter and the vignettes of riverboat sailing are done succinctly but with an eye for period detail. Heck also manages to avoid the horrors of dialect writing and still makes his characters believable. And it is a cast of real characters, including the Throckmorton Brothers, hot on the trail of a treasure in gold; "Slippery Ed" McPhee, a riverboat gambler looking for an easy mark; and Major Demayne, whose poetry writing serves as a humorous counterpoint to the mystery investigation. A nice touch: a map of the Mississippi in the front of the book enables the reader to follow the course of the "Horace Greeley" with a little more geographical certainty.

Heck's obvious love for his subject material makes up for having everyone gather in the "drawing room" (in this case, the riverboat's salon) to hear Clemen's denouement, and a host of secondary characters who serve as a legion of red herrings. The mystery is engaging, the characters crisply drawn, and last but certainly not least, Mark Twain is an entertaining, interesting detective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Baker HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
William Wentworth Cabot has just graduated from Yale, and for his first job, he becomes Mark Twain's traveling secretary. Interested in travel, Wentworth is over his head when a body is found in New York with Mark Twain's name in his pocket. Does it have anything to do with Twain's plans to dig up a fortune in gold mid-trip? And is the killer on board their ship all the way on the Mississippi?
This book is an enjoyable jaunt down the Mississippi with Mark Twain on a riverboat. The main characters were enjoyable, and I especially enjoyed the portrayal of Twain. The plot was a little weak, however. The information on riverboats and the river was interesting, but too much attention was paid to it, with little advancing the story. Still, once a second body is found, the plot kicks into high gear. I was caught off guard by the revelation of the killer, but everything fit together logically.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this historic mystery series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "mystery006" on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anyone who is a fan of Mark Twain will enjoy this book. This delightful debut of Detective Clemens includes an exciting riverboat trip on the Mississippi, a tale of buried treasure, a gang of tricky gamblers, and tons of period detail. Peter J. Heck's portrayal of Twain is every bit believable from his quick wit to his southern drawl. He and his traveling secretary, Wentworth Cabot, make an unusual team. I found this book to be suspenseful, entertaining, and informative. It left me wanting to read more.
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