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A new job, a brutal murder, and Camelot has ended.

In 1963, Dot Morgan’s life was changed forever. She witnessed the assassination of John F Kennedy through the lens of her boxy Kodak Instamatic camera, bringing traumatic aftereffects of the brutality that happened as they stood on the parade route in Dallas.

She starts her first real secretarial job with a boss who has no sympathy for her trauma. When Dot’s only work friend has a mysterious accident at a demolition site, she digs around on her own only to find very little love between two brothers and no one hammering out justice to find a murderer.

The suspects are all around Dot and as she tries to sift through their motives, her cousin Ellie is going through PTSD on her own, losing interest in work, and her fiancé all the while quoting some of JFK’s finest speeches.
With so much change in her world, can Dot still tell the difference between good and evil?

230 pages, Kindle Edition

Published March 14, 2023

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About the author

Teresa Trent

41 books372 followers

Teresa Trent is a writer and the voice of the Books to the Ceiling podcast. Her book series include the The Swinging Sixties, The Pecan Bayou and Piney Woods Mysteries.
You can also visit her blog Books to the Ceiling .

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for pawsreadrepeat.
492 reviews17 followers
May 21, 2023
I received an advance review copy for free am leaving this review voluntarily. Thank you Teresa Trent and Partners In Crime Tours. I'm excited to be a part of this tour.

I am fascinated by the Camelot era and assassination of JFK. Born in 1975, JFK has always been assassinated in my world. I have watched every documentary and read anything I could get my hands on. Having said all of that, I jumped at the chance to read this book!

The book is a quick read and set in 1963. Going into the book, I didn’t know it was the second in the series and it read well as a standalone. The author does an excellent job of taking the reader back in time by including aspects of the culture at the time using popular TV shows and music. Another fun fact, I love the music from the 60s, it was powerful.

The characters are well developed, and their dynamics kept me engaged. Having worked for a few terrible bosses in my day, I identified with Dot Morgan and her need to process her trauma while also focusing on her first job out of secretary school. When her only friend dies mysteriously, I also understood her need to investigate. Her amateur sleuthing kept me turning the pages late into the night.

Overall, this book had it all – mayhem, murder, and mystery – weaved together to create an intriguing story. I look forward to reading more from this author and will be reading book 1!
Profile Image for Karen Siddall.
Author 1 book52 followers
May 10, 2023
A puzzling small-town mystery set during the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.

If I Had a Hammer is the second book in author Teresa Trent’s nostalgia-inducing Swinging Sixties Mystery series. It is a miracle of a throwback to a different time and place. Dot is a determined and plucky heroine, operating within the confines of the times before women’s lib or even the summer of love, and she and her friends are questioning those constraints.

Dot is fearless in her pursuit of answers, especially in the face of so much male superiority and constant brushoffs. She’s repeatedly threatened and told to mind her own business, but she doesn’t back down. She perseveres in her horribly hostile work environment because she knows the hit her resume will take would be devastating to finding another job. She’s cautious toward her potential love interest, reported Ben Dalton, unsure of his true interest. Is it for herself or for the insider information she has as a witness to certain events that keeps him coming around?

The plot gets more complicated as the body count rises, alibis fall apart, and a major suspect ends up dead. The resolution ultimately surprised me; I never believed the final culprit would be the guilty party. My favorite aspect of the story was the attention to period details that replicated the atmosphere of the early ‘60s. The dialogue perfectly reflected the attitudes of the time, and even the main character’s inner monologue aligned. I felt transported back in time.

With its likable main character and moodily recreated time period, I recommend IF I HAD A HAMMER to readers who enjoy historical mysteries, stories concurrent with the JFK assassination, or settings in small-town Texas.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Profile Image for Mark Baker.
2,057 reviews152 followers
May 12, 2023
It’s November of 1963, and Dot Morgan’s excitement at witnessing JFK’s trip to Dallas turns to tragedy. While her cousin deals with what they witnessed, Dot has to concentrate on her first job out of secretarial school. She’s working at a local construction company, but she really only likes one of her bosses. When he falls victim to a weird accident at work, Dot starts to investigate. Can she figure out what happened?

You can’t write a series set in Texas in the 1960’s without dealing what happened that November. I liked that this piece of history is given its own subplot, although I did feel like that storyline was rushed. The main mystery is strong, with plenty to keep me turning pages, and the suspects were developed enough to help keep me confused. I loved getting to spend time with Dot again, and the rest of the regulars are good as well. As we get into the second half of the book, the action moves into December, and I enjoyed the Christmas parts of the book, too. If you are looking for a good mystery set around an important piece of American history, this book is for you.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
Profile Image for Joan.
3,642 reviews64 followers
May 15, 2023
For older readers like me, this novel was a trip down memory lane. I like how Trent firmly sets the mystery in the culture of the day by including popular television shows and hit songs. I also like how Kennedy's assassination was part of the plot as an event precipitating action. That the event had a huge impact on people is shown by Ellie making a rash decision to do Peace Corps work.

The novel is a good mystery too. I like Dot as a flawed amateur sleuth. While she can't seem to make it to work on time, she is good at getting to finally identify the villain. The villain was no surprise as Trent was not subtle in hinting at the dastardly character.

This is a fun mystery for readers who love all things 60s.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
235 reviews
May 26, 2023
What would I do if I had a hammer? I could build something new or maybe repair something not so new.

Or I could destroy something or someone. There's a person in Camden, Texas who is doing just that. People haven't even recovered from the assassination of President Kennedy when the local murders start to pile up.

I'm from the Sixties and am enjoying some of the memories that are in this series. Since I'm unable to get to the library I can't read the first book in Trent's Swinging Sixties, Twist and Shout, since it's not also in an ebook format. I'm certain I would like it, too.

I just found a Kindle edition of Twist and Shout. ;p

Thank you, Ms Trent, for bringing back memories as well as entertaining me with Dot's adventures.

***Book received from PICT without charge.***
522 reviews13 followers
April 25, 2023
Right place at the right time

Imagine going to work for a boss that you hate. Always yelling at everyone and not caring about people. Now imagine being stuck and unable to leave. One day, fortunately/unfortunately, you get fired. But there are too many things not adding up. As you investigate your old boss keeps trying to interfere and throw his weight around. Do you keep pushing forward to bring people to justice; or do you risk it all?

Profile Image for Donna.
160 reviews4 followers
April 3, 2023
Cute quick read taking place in 1963. Sleuthing done by a secretary in the days is typewriters, carbon paper, dictaphones and land lines…you’re going to enjoy it!
Profile Image for Jody ~ I'm Into Books.
510 reviews59 followers
May 1, 2023
Although I was unaware that this was the second book in the series, it was still a quick and fun read. I was impressed by the writing and the characters. When Dot Morgan saw JFK being killed in 1963, her life was forever changed. The author completely immerses you within that era of history. This story is filled with mayhem and murder, as well as some amateur sleuthing. Highly recommend!
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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