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Letter From Home Mass Market Paperback – October 5, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Hart has created a fabulous two-in-one: an excellent mystery and the poignant memoirs of her heroine, Gretchen Grace Gilman. A letter received by the now elderly newshound extraordinaire returns her physically, mentally and emotionally to her past and to her hometown in northeastern Oklahoma. As the pages of the letter unfold, so does the story of Gretchen's summer of 1944. With every able-bodied male involved in the war effort, Gazette editor Walt Dennis agrees to give 13-year-old Gretchen a shot as a newspaper reporter. But the sleepy town is soon rocked by the murder of Faye Tatum, an artist and the mom of Gretchen's friend and neighbor Barb. To make matters worse, the prime suspect is Barb's dad, Clyde, home on leave but nowhere to be found after the murder. Political ambitions spur the county attorney and the sheriff to track down Clyde and arrest him, while less hasty Chief Fraser is more interested in first sorting through all the facts. The obviously well-researched history draws the reader into this atypical whodunit. Characters are Steinbeck vivid, as is the sense of time and place. Hart masterfully portrays an American small town during WWII.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Hart has created a fabulous two-in-one: an excellent mystery and the poignant memoirs of her heroine, Gretchen Grace Gilman...The obviously well-researched history draws the reader into this atypical whodunit. Characters are Steinbeck vivid, as is the sense of time and place. Hart masterfully portrays an American small town during WWII.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[R]eaders...will be touched by Gretchen’s bruising encounters with wartime morality and Hart’s...rendition of rationing, manless households, and feminine gumption.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In Letter From Home the scene of the crime is bygone days in small-town Oklahoma. It took me back to my own boyhood and just such a summer...You’ll enjoy it.”—New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman
Top customer reviews
While the mystery was "nothing to write home about," it was still well executed. There were just enough clues for me to use to figure out who the killer was, but I wasn't able to do so until the very end. That made for a pretty satisfying read.
The storyline was a bit slow, but still kept my attention. There were very few side plots to make the story more intriguing. Mostly, it was all about the murder. This would have been fine, except that the murder was just not all that intriguing.
I loved it that the author had a teenager, a pretty young one, as the main character and that she was a reporter. When I first started the novel, I was thinking that having a kid that young be a reporter, especially reporting on crime, was a bit of a stretch. However, the author explains it satisfactorily, giving the novel a very realistic feel. Not only that, but Gretchen really was just a regular kid, albeit a bit on the smart end of the spectrum. She was not a hero; she was just the `reporter' of the story.
Character Development: 4 Stars
Gretchen, as the main character, was very well developed. She was likable and believable as a fourteen year old. At some points while reading, I thought she was a little naive; however, after further consideration of the time period, her thoughts and actions were appropriate and right on the age level for that time.
The other characters were pretty flat. I think the victim and Gretchen's best friend, the victim's daughter, could have been fleshed out a bit more.
Writing Style: 4 1/4 Stars
For the most part, the story had a pretty good flow to it, with very nice sentence structuring. However, it did get a little wordy with extraneous descriptions, especially the opening scenes of each chapter.
The dialogue was good and appropriate for the time period.
We see the story through the eyes of a woman named Gretchen, mentally vigorous in old age and reliving events from the summer of 1944 when she was fourteen. Men being away at war changed life in her small Oklahoma town, and gave her the opportunity to work as a newspaper reporter that summer. When a murder happened two doors from where she lived with her grandmother, she found herself deeply involved.
I don't enjoy stories about teenage angst, and this is not at all that kind of book. The use of Gretchen's point of view allows the reader to see events through her innocence, rather than the cynicism of a hard-boiled mystery.
If you've enjoyed other Carolyn Hart books, you'll surely love this one. Oklahoma summers are HOT, so it will warm you on a winter night, or have you reaching for iced tea and watermelon in summer!
Kathy Diamond Davis
This novel is outside Hart's well-known longterm mystery series. It involves a 13-year-old in her first journalism job on a daily newspaper in a small northeast Oklahoma town in 1944. It does, however, have a strong mystery to spin, integral to the coming-of-age core plot.
I grew up in a small-town in the same part of Oklahoma during World War II myself. In fact, my family owned the daily newspaper. I don't know whether I was charmed by the book more because it captures or recreates so well a time and place that I share -- or by its intrinsic value, a fine story, beautifully told. I suspect both.
Anyway, I loved it. So will you and so should some people on your holiday gift list.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked this book. Mystery too along with the 1940 ish nostalgia. Reminded
me of good days in my past.