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The Transcendental Murder (Homer Kelly, #1)
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The Transcendental Murder (Homer Kelly #1)

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  252 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The peaceful town of Concord, Massachusetts, becomes a hotbed of intrigue and activity when the annual re-creation of the ride of Paul Revere ends in murder. And it falls to Homer Kelly to set things straight.
Paperback, 36 pages
Published February 7th 1990 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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One for the Money by Janet EvanovichChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukeAbby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria LaurieThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Best Cozy Mystery Series
346th out of 1,088 books — 1,291 voters
One for the Money by Janet EvanovichA is for Alibi by Sue GraftonChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukePleating for Mercy by Melissa BourbonHer Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
First books of some good cozy series
168th out of 335 books — 448 voters

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Community Reviews

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Vicki Olson
The page number count is incorrect on this novel. It is listed as 36, but it is really 360 pages. So I am not really done reading it. I will rate it once I am.
This was one of the first mystery series I discovered--and fell in love with--when I first started as a librarian. What a treat to rediscover it now in audio. Perhaps because they're so rich in literary references (or art, history, music in some of the later series titles), they don't seem to date as much as those that rely on technology. These are cozy mysteries with tech and violence both at a low level--but they have the timeless draw of interesting characters, complex puzzles, and intriguing ...more
Mary Holland
Published in 1964 and still in print, this is the first of Jane Langton's Homer Kelly mysteries. This has a multitude of characters, each distinct and memorable, as is the setting in Concord, Massachusetts. I usually have a low tolerance for 'travelogue' mysteries, where the author does a cursory tourist description of the setting, but Langton's deep love and knowledge of New England gives this book authenticity. The descriptions are gorgeous. I learned more about Thoreau, Emily Dickinson and Ra ...more
Nick Duretta
This cozy mystery will be of much more appeal to students or fans of the New England transcendentalists (including Thoreau, Dickinson, Emerson) than it was to me. The love story between librarian Mary and historian Homer Kelly--who pair up to find the book's murderer--is cute and well-drawn. But the mystery plot is a real stretch, even though the characters are your usual bunch of typically quant and idiosyncratic folks you usually find in mysteries like this.

The Homer Kelly mysteries are set in Concord, Massachusetts and its surrounding area, steeped in the history of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, and especially Henry David Thoreau. There are plenty of small town "characters", some of whom want to protect the history and natural beauty Thoreau wrote about. Other people want to exploit the Camden area for commercial and tourist purposes, and to line their own pockets. These books move slowly and are filled with literary refe
The first book in the Homer Kelly series is set in Concord, Massachusetts. Homer has come do do research on the transcendentalists, and meets junior librarian, Mary. They have some sparking chemistry, irritating each other. The local historical society is in an uproar when one of its members produces love letters purportedly between Thoreau and Emily Dickinson. When he ends up shot during the reenactment and parade occurring on Patriot Day, the local authorities suspect his son based on the acco ...more
Langton, Jane. THE TRANSCENDENTAL MURDER. (1964; re-issued in 1976 under the title, THE MINUTEMAN MURDER. This ed., 1989). **. This is my first novel by this author – and probably my last. It’s a cute cozy set in Concord, Mass., that is based heavily on the literary history of the town. The town is preparing for the annual 19th of April Ceremony, the day of the celebrated battle at Concord Bridge. Later, two dead bodies turn up – men in Minuteman dress. The culprit must be found, and its up to L ...more
Laurel Bradshaw
Description: Scholarly infighting can get a lot more violent than most outsiders realize, but usually that violence is confined to the printed page. Not so in Concord, Mass., where the arrival of Homer Kelly, an expert on the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, has stirred up passions concerning a manuscript that may or may not have been written by Henry David Thoreau. Things come to a head during the town's annual re-enactment of Paul Revere's famous ride, when one of the 'Minutemen' turns up dead, st ...more
Deb Van iderstine
Currently rereading. As is repeatedly noted in the book, it's not the ride of Paul Revere, but of Dr. Samuel Prescott, who completed the mission when Revere was waylaid by British. Jane Langton always a pleasure. This is the initial book of the Homer Kelly series, which introduces both him and his eventual wife, Mary Morgan. Langton's excellent use of Massachusetts history, locales, and eccentricities enhances the story.
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The first in a mystery series that I just discovered...where have I been?? If you like an old fashioned mystery complete with quirky characters, romance and the unusual setting of Concord, Massachusetts (home of Thoreau and Emily Dickinson--who play minor roles in this contemporary mystery)--you will enjoy this book immensely. On to #2 in the Homer Kelly Mystery Series!
I like this cute mystery series starring Homer Kelly he is a unique character who likes to look at things that happened in history. The is of course a murder that takes place as well.
Content - It's the first book in the series so there's a lot of introductory writing going on. But it does get around to the mystery - eventually. I did figure out whodunnit before the big reveal but it took a while. I spent most of the book unsure - I'll definitely be picking up more books by this author.

Mechanics - The beginning is muddy. It needed streamlining. There's an enormous cast of characters which the author lists in the front of the book - a good resource. Lots of descriptive detail
Martha F-P
Dated, but I was charmed and would read more in the series! Enjoyed the descriptions of a familiar setting.
Mary the librarian meets Homer.
Neat characters.
Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson.
Enjoyable mystery, if a little rambling plot-wise.
Jo Marie
I didn't like this as much as I thought I would; it took quite a while for me to really get into it. I eventually did and enjoyed it well enough that i might try another in the series. Perhaps the second in the series will do without all the introductory pages and get right to the mystery. Which actually wasn't much of a mystery but I did like the main characters a lot.
I thought I would have enjoyed this book more than I did. It is possible that this was due to my reading some extraordinary books recently. I did enjoy the setting, but it didn't get the feeling of suspense that a mystery typically does.
I've been making my way through some of my mom's favorite mysteries. This isn't my favorite series, but the quirky Homer Kelly makes for an unusual and lovable protagonist. I found myself getting a little bogged down in the "literariness" of the books. There are moments when I thought the author was showing off...
Aug 16, 2013 Danna marked it as to-read
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I'd never heard of Jane Langton or the Homer Kelly Mystery series until today at Savers. The title on the spine, The Transcendental Murder, and a recommendation (or review?) by Eudora Welty on the cover, captured my attention. A mystery set in "the birthplace of the American Revolution and the home of the Transcendentalists—Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcotts"—and Emily Dickinson quotes cited too? Sold!
This one was billed as a cozy-I'm not sure why. When I'm reading a cozy, I want a dead body within the first 2 chapters and quirky characters. With this one I had to wait until page 80 for the body, and the characters were either cruel, or sad, not really quirky. The story dragged, and didn't hold my attention all that well. Very disappointed with this.
Wow. I hated this. Only read it because I thought I "should", it being two of my favorite things - a mystery and about Transcendentalists. I hate the dated, flippant and verbose writing style and the casual 1960s sexism. It had a "WTF" ending, not an "aha!" ending (the latter being how I like my mysteries). Back to Agatha Christie for me!
A light, cozy mystery with an unusual twist. The setting for the murder is 20th Century Concord, Massachusetts which allows the author to consider the effects of living in a community overshadowed by local 19th Century writers such as Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Dickinson.
Didn't like this book much, although its erudition makes one feel moderately guilty for this judgment. Frankly, it's a boor, as was reading the nabobs of Transcendentalism themselves. Thoreau, Emerson, no thank you.
Aug 23, 2007 Deb rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: LMA fans, mystery buffs
I'm letting three of the Homer Kelly books represent the whole series. It's a series that has not grown on me as the years go by, and I haven't read those since the Dante one, but this one is the best!
Started pretty slow but by the time the crime was committed I was hooked, it's the first book in the series and I'll be reading more of them.
I laughed out loud several times while reading this book. The "girding the loins" part is going down in the "Top 10 Best Lines in a Book" list.
I liked it because besides being a good mystery, all the allusions to the history of the area and the Transcendentalist movement made me think.
Very evocative of place and deeply rooted in its subject matter. Can get a bit...long-winded, but then again, it is about the Transcendentalists.
May 11, 2008 Rae rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
Homer Kelly investigates a murder during the annual Paul Revere ride in Concord, Massachusetts. I really couldn't get into this one.
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Langton was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She studied astronomy at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1944. She received an M.A. in art history from the University of Michigan in 1945, and another M.A. from Radcliffe College in 1948. She studied at the Boston Museum School from 1958 to 1959.

In 1961 Langton wrote and illustrated her first book for ch
More about Jane Langton...

Other Books in the Series

Homer Kelly (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Dark Nantucket Noon (Homer Kelly, #2)
  • The Memorial Hall Murder (Homer Kelly, #3)
  • Natural Enemy (Homer Kelly, #4)
  • Emily Dickinson Is Dead (Homer Kelly, #5)
  • Good and Dead (Homer Kelly, #6)
  • Murder at the Gardner
  • The Dante Game (Homer Kelly, #8)
  • God in Concord (Homer Kelly, #9)
  • Divine Inspiration (Homer Kelly, #10)
  • The Shortest Day: Murder at the Revels (Homer Kelly, #11)
The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles #4) The Diamond in the Window (Hall Family Chronicles, #1) The Time Bike (Hall Family Chronicles #6) The Swing in the Summerhouse (Hall Family Chronicles, #2) Emily Dickinson Is Dead (Homer Kelly, #5)

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