Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Memorial Hall Murder (The Homer Kelly Mysteries Book 3)
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on May 13, 2002
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!
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on May 17, 2001
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.
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on September 23, 2015
I have read many of Jane Langton's books over the years and re-read a fair number. In terms of the thoroughness with which she describes the scene of the crime as well as the massing of characters and distinctiveness of situation, it is somewhat different from her customary efforts. It is certainly the book most deeply rooted in the clerical seminary which over the years came to think of itself as the premiere institution of secular higher learning in the country if not the world. Whatever the extent to which others might question the validity of the self-congratulatory attitude, the author accepts the claim but invents for the reader a rather different image of its administrative leadership and the efficiency of its lower echelon of employees. The major focus of this amusing although suspenseful view of campus life is a Great Hall in which not only is music produced but because of the nature of the vast building and the largess of its principle faculty occupant hospitality is given to myriads of odd activities and people who find shelter in its multiplicity of small offices. The book opens on an explosion which has taken place in the Great Hall, beheading the benign conductor of the orchestra, and forcing closure of some of the offices in the rabbit warren which is the basement floor. The reader soon learns that while the world believes that orotund figure to be dead, he is, in truth alive but injured and trapped in a dark cell of a room which has been labelled by searchers as unoccupied. Major element of suspense number one, will he survive the wait to be found. Major element of suspense number two: will the villain or villains who created the explosion strike again. This question can be subsumed under the more explanatory query: will Homer Kelly, who, with his wife and fellow visiting faculty member at Harvard, are on the scene, find the otherwise doomed Orchestra Leader and will they discover and bring to justice the miscreant (or miscreants) responsible for the crime before they strike again..if that is their intention.
There is more detailed examination of the setting than became customary for the author in later books and less emphasis on the heroes heroine, nonetheless, I found it interesting (as I did on my initial reading a decade or two ago) and did experience the sense of urgency for the hero to get on track which is the author's intent. Readers who have liked other of her books, should enjoy this one; new readers with a taste for other than sexually explicit or rough and tumble mysteries should also find it entertaining. The author is, incidentally, both literate and a mistress of stylish writing (with a rewarding skill at the occasional illustrations which dot the text.)
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on August 6, 2015
Sometimes mystery authors accidentally telegraph the identity of the bad guy. In this novel, Jane Langton put up a flashing billboard in Harvard Square. At times, it was terribly frustrating to see how far behind detective Homer Kelly was in solving the case, and I confess to skimming through the last chapters to the conclusion. That said, the book also provides a fun look at Harvard in the late seventies. When next in Boston, I hope to spend some time in Memorial Hall. And without spoiling the plot, I'll just say that as an academic, the resolution still was rather satisfying.
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on February 11, 2005
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.
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on July 22, 2008
"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]
review image review image
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on December 23, 2009
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.
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on July 22, 2013
Badly written; shallow, cardboard characters, stiff dialogue, no idea how to do exposition. If you live in Harvard Square it may be fun to read about places you know but that's all that commends this book
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