A police radio scanner call of '419' - "dead human body" - on a bucolic fall afternoon in the south-central Missouri Ozarks small town of Oak Springs sends a part-time local newspaper reporter, Penny Nixon, on the adventure of her life-time. Warned by her editor to only look for 'human-interest angles' to the story, her actions bring her perilously close to interviewing the knife-wielding perpetrator of a bizarre murder. The victim is a recently disgraced young attorney who only weeks earlier was involved in a domestic violence incident with his 'banker's daughter' bride in this quiet small town.
Review by Brandee
"Murder by the Homeplace is a novella in the Homeplace series. It can be read standalone which is how I read it. It is well written and held my interest with the mystery. However, I was never able to connect with the main character, Penny, and I felt this took away from my experience.
Murder by the Homeplace is the story of the days following a murder in a small town and the investigation that ensues. Penny Nixon, our heroine, is a freelance, part-time journalist and photographer who pursues the story for the local paper - which her father happens to own. We follow Penny over the course of two weeks as she pursues her own investigation of the murder, interviewing law enforcement, as well as other people who had connections to the victim, while law enforcement conduct their own.
The story is told in a first person narrative, and I think this may be the reason for my disconnect with the characters. There's something about this style that doesn't always work for me. While the story was good and well written, I was never emotionally invested. So while I was interested enough in the mystery to keep reading, the story didn't move me.
I will say that the Bevins family saga mentioned in this story and told in the other books in the series is very intriguing. I like the thought of a story told about a family who've owned and lived in the same spot for over a century. I also liked the authors ability to paint the characters in a realistic light. The people inhabiting Oak Springs seem like folks you'd see around town, if you were visiting. I sensed the personal ties the characters had for one another, but I didn't feel the tie myself.
Would I have been more engaged if I'd read the previous books in this series? Perhaps. And I will eventually check them out. Overall, I liked Murder by the Homeplace. I guess I prefer my stories to evoke more of an emotional response."
Review by Mindy
This is a charming story told from the point of view of a newspaper reporter who is interviewing people around town after a murder occurs in her home town. She interviews various people in town affected by the murders or connected to the victim.
This is a novella. It is well-written, sweet, and written in a fairly passive voice. This does not, however, take away from the story.
I give this book 3.5 out of 5 clouds.
Comments on 'Murder at the Homeplace' from advance reader Jason Bolger:
"I like how it's a different slant on the town, but still weaves in the characters from the books I enjoyed so much. I like how the reporter interacts with people, and it seems like the dialog gives a pretty good feel for the emotions, or the state of mind the characters are in at the time she talks with them. I also like how there are little "side mysteries" that are hinted at, but not explained. This gives me a chance to imagine things on my own as a reader, and not have to be told every little thing.