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

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  312 Ratings  ·  40 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, 360 pages
Published February 7th 1990 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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Mary Holland
Jul 20, 2012 Mary Holland rated it it was amazing
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
Vicki Olson
Mar 05, 2015 Vicki Olson rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 21, 2016 Marlene rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, 2016
The sentences are ridiculous. I forced myself to get through fifty pages and stopped.
Mar 03, 2014 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it

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
Nick Duretta
Dec 19, 2013 Nick Duretta rated it liked it
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.
Jul 23, 2010 Tony rated it it was ok
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
Aug 14, 2013 Laurel Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
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
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
3.5 STARS | Jane Langton is an artist as well as writer, so her books have long beckoned to me. What I didn't realize is how much of a scholar she is. Reading this novel, I felt lacking in my knowledge of Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson and the Alcotts, however it wasn't off-putting, but fun and done with humor. Set in Concord, Mass, where the famous Minuteman statue stands in the square, the mystery revolves around secret love letters supposedly written within that small circle of 19th century Tran ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Janice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, clean-reads
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.

There's an enormous cast of characters which the author lists in the front of the book - a good resource. Lots of descriptive detail which works well in mysteries since it obscures what's just detail an
Feb 19, 2016 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in a series that is framed around a policeman named Homer Kelly. A murder happens during the celebration of Patriots Day in Concord, MA and the novel is about the various characters in the village of Concord who might well have wanted to kill the victim. It also introduces Mary - a librarian who has an inquisitive mind. Ultimately (spoiler alert) Mary and Homer become partners in life and in crime sleuthing. I think I will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor and the easy readi ...more
Deb Van iderstine
Feb 25, 2015 Deb Van iderstine rated it really liked it
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.
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!
Jun 26, 2011 Tara rated it did not like it
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!
May 20, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it
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!
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.
Jun 06, 2013 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 30, 2013 Sharman rated it liked it
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...
Jul 17, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
#1 in the Homer Kelly series.

Homer Kelly series - Homer and the then-single Mary Morgan begin their investigative and romantic relationship, as Mary uses her librarian research skills to assist Homer while he applies his extensive knowledge of literature to solve a murder following the re-enactment of the ride of Paul Revere.

Aug 21, 2007 Deb rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 22, 2008 Mom rated it liked it
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.
May 23, 2013 Alex rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries-read, 2013
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.
Jan 17, 2014 Deborah rated it it was ok
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.
May 05, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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.
Dec 23, 2008 Zayne rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 21, 2009 Kevin rated it liked it
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.
Sep 29, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it
Book club book for October...
Jan 13, 2010 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I recently reread this and I still love it....
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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 (Homer Kelly, #7)
  • 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)

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