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Thoreau at Devil's Perch (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #1)
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Thoreau at Devil's Perch

(Henry David Thoreau Mystery #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Henry David Thoreau leaves the seclusion of Walden Pond to help investigate a series of murders in the first in B. B. Oak’s fascinating new historical mystery series, set against the bucolic backdrop of 19th century New England.

The lush, overgrown banks of Massachusetts’s Assabet river are the ideal place for Dr. Adam Walker to find coveted medicinal plants for his remedie
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2013)
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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  110 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I was in elementary school still when I first read and fell for Henry David Thoreau and his friends/colleagues like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Ellery Channing. My mom was taking college courses at the time and I loved going with her on my days off from school (or skipping mine altogether so I could go) and -- aside from her Faulkner course -- ate it all up. I would do the readings and, often, my own 8-9 year old attempts at the homework. When I saw that the book that I was being offered was ...more
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
An entertaining historical mystery featuring one of my favorite naturalists, Henry David Thoreau, during his time at Walden Pond.

This mystery is written in two hands and by two hands; the author B.B. Oak is really writing team Beth and Ben Oak. The story flows between the journals of first cousins Julia and Adam . The adventure begins when Henry Thoreau finds the body of a deceased man at the base of Devil's perch and asks Adam, a doctor, for help. Both Thoreau and Adam believe the deceased to
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
For my book club's History Mystery theme, I read "Thoreau at Devil's Perch" by B.B. Oak. This is the debut title in the Henry David Thoreau historical mystery series. The character of Thoreau is based on the American essayist, poet, philosopher, and author of "On Walden's Pond". It's interesting to note that the author, B.B. Oak, is actually the pen name of a husband and wife writing team, Ben and Beth Oak. Besides Thoreau, the 2 main characters in the novel are Dr. Adam Walker and his cousin Mi ...more
Jane Barclay
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a mystery that has many levels. First, it's a who-done-it. A young Cherokee with a tragic history is arrested for the vicious murder of a retired army office and Henry David Thoreau (age 29 and living at Walden Pond) along with two friends, a doctor and his artist cousin, are convinced the Indian is innocent. To prove it, they risk life and limb and take us on a bumpy ride through the bucolic Massachusetts countryside and twisting cobblestone streets of Boston's red light district.

To b
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dr. Adam Walker is out walking in the woods when he finds a body. Running into Henry David Thoreau he asks for his help. Between them they feel that the young black man was murdered but the inquest finds that he accidentally fell to his death. As Walker and Thoreau investigate further another body is found only this time it is definitely murder and the wrong man is accused. Now Walker and Thoreau have two murders to solve.

Great characters and interesting storyline. Will definitely continue to re
Since I thought that Thoreau was pretty interesting, it disappointed me that he wasn't a protagonist. It feels like false advertising when it's called a Henry David Thoreau mystery.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
It's 1846 and, while strolling along the the cliffs near the fictional town of Plumford, Dr Adam Walker and Henry David Thoreau stumble upon the body of a young African American man. The death is eventually declared an accident but Walker and Thoreau are not convinced. They decide to investigate on their own. When another murder leads to the arrest of Trump, a young Native American, both Walker and Thoreau are convinced of his innocence and fear that, if the real perpetrator is not soon found, h ...more
R J Mckay
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are so many things I loved about this book.
First, the concept of a historical figure woven into a murder mystery was fantastic! The hidden-writer in me keeps thinking of so many 19th century figures that would be fascinating to study this way.
Second, the dual journal entries draw you deep into the individual personalities. It felt like I was eves-dropping in their diaries; reading their deepest secrets.
Third, their everyday lives were so colorfully described in the common language of Th
Tom Melcior
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Here is a tale of jealousy, betrayal, bloody murder, and awful revenge. I counted five murders, all given the closure of justice in the end.

In its pages there is one of the most desperate, chilling, near death experiences I have ever read as a young man literally claws his way back to life. Also - a man-to-man fight to the death that is worthy of Jack Reacher.

Yet this mystery is not a dark or brooding or gruesome story. It is full of life. It's about Henry Thoreau as a vital, happy, young man wh
Dora Truong
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. The writing is decent and the story quite engrossing. The authors do a good job of capturing the period. Anyone hoping for a lot of Thoreau might be disappointed. He is on the periphery at best. A budding romance seems to take center stage along with what turns out to be two mysteries. Less romance would have suited me but I tolerated it for the other pluses.
It was a good idea to have Henry David Thoreau as the amateur detective, but choosing to tell the story through the journal entries of Dr. Adam Walker and his cousin Julia Bell made the narrative ponderous with period-style prose.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
Redolent of the times, speaking of women's rights, Indians, prostitution, and hypocrisy in the Congrgational pulpit.
This historical fiction has kept me interested in Walden.
Craig Masten
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it

First thing I noticed about this history murder mystery novel was apt touches of antique phrases which felt appropriate to the time. Whether invented or not, these wiffs of past style of speech were not overdone or so arcane as to make the reading difficult or tedious. They just leant authenticity. Also the voices of the characters seemed to suit them: the doctor's clipped speech when going about his diagnosis, for instance.
Nice descriptive asides and descriptive detail also set the plot in a
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Henry David Thoreau as a crime-fighting sleuth? I was skeptical when I began reading B.B. Oak's debut historical mystery, Thoreau at Devil's Perch, but I was rapidly convinced: Thoreau's careful, calm, minute observations of the world and the people around him make him a natural detective.

Writing as B.B. Oak, Ben and Beth Oak, a husband-and-wife writing team, offer us intrigue and suspense on many counts: the "whodunit" of the murder (a young black man who's a stranger to Plumford, the fictional
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it

I tugged my hand free from under his and said, "Perhaps your services as a minister could be of use below."
He looked at me in disbelief. "Are you suggesting I pray over the body of a Negro?"
Is it not your duty as a clergyman to pray for all souls?"
"Prayer will not help those who have not been chosen," he said gravely.
"I am sure God bestows his love on us equally, Mr. Upson."
"Indeed God does not.

Should I have been as bold as to join the men below, I would have been asked, politely but fi
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very unique and endearing, this is a crime mystery novel set in the 1850s starring Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet and practical philosopher. The main characters are a pair of cousins, Julia and Adam, who are in love with each other but are deathly afraid of the consequences a match such as theirs might have on possible offspring. Chapters are written from both Julia's and Adam's perspectives, alternating throughout, as their personal journal entries. The setting is a sleepy New Eng ...more
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
THOREAU AT DEVIL'S PERCH has everything I like in a historical mystery - a dense, twisty plot, noble and nasty characters, a time-travel high adventure. There's also an undercurrent of spirituality running through the story, a sense of mystery beyond the murder mystery.

Don't know all that much about Henry David Thoreau but in this book he's a crime-solver who cannot tolerate hypocrisy or injustice and is always looking out for the underdog. He is determined to find the murderer of a black yout
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, concord
While Henry David Thoreau is the title character, the actual main characters of the novel are Dr. Adam Walker and artist Julia Bell, whose alternating journal entries form the narrative structure of the novel. When I first began this book, I honestly expected to dislike it. The opening chapters seemed weak and ill promising. Thoreau, the natural observer, seemed much less perceptive than he ought to be. However, as the novel progressed, it developed nicely; almost as if the authors became more i ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, reviewed
The book is a mystery that in some ways reminds me of the series by Susan Wittig Albert about Beatrix Potter e.g., The Tale of Briar Bank. Both series are about genuine historical characters & add a fictional twist. This is a well established convention, & I like it when it's well done. What troubles me about this book is the introduction of supernatural elements. In this case, the mystery is solved by two cousins who have flashbacks to past lives; Thoreau is only a helper. The past live ...more
Matt B.
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A historical mystery that never slows its pace right to the startling end - two startling ends - while entertaining the reader with a stagefull of characters that includes Henry David Thoreau - only 29 in 1846 - and more than one memorable villain.

The journals of two cousins tell the tale in alternating entries and in their pages their own stories became as fascinating to this reader as the solving of the murders.

There is more here than crime scenes - the ideas, fears, the routines of daily life
Melissa Calvert
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received "Thoreau At Devil's Perch" as a Member Giveaway book from LibraryThing, which delighted me. B.B. Oak (Beth and Ben Oak) make an awesome writing team! I enjoyed every minute of this story. It's a historical fiction story full of mystery with fun, interesting characters. I found myself attached to the open-minded characters in the book-- Henry David Thoreau, Julia, Adam... The writing based in these classic times was very fitting, in my opinion. I also enjoyed being given insight here a ...more
Gabi Coatsworth
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by B.B. Oak, a husband and wife team. Having Henry David Thoreau as one of the three detectives on the case is a terrific idea, and the authors manage skilfully to weave in plenty of historical detail to make the cases they try to solve convincing. Plenty of false trails and a cliffhanger ending make this a fun read. Recommended for historical fiction fans, mystery/crime fans and lovers of Thoreau and his time. Their website has extra historical background. ...more
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
The third Henry David Thoreau Mystery caught my eye on my library's new fiction shelf, so I went to find the first. It was somewhat entertaining, but not a page turner for me. It was interesting to read about the fictionalized Thoreau. The mystery of the murders was tantalizing, and took many turns. The tale is told through the pages of a journal and notebook of two characters, who face a major dilemma. It was somewhat more gory than I generally like to read. A relaxing read, fun, but not memora ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is an ambitious effort to fictionalize Thoreau and his times using 21st century sensibilities. The author(s) took lots of Henry's words from his writings and inserted them into his conversations as he and a few friends tried to solve a local murder. But I was not impressed. The last chapters of what was a pretty good story were conveniently contrived and unrealistic in order to produce the famous "happy ending."
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure that this would catch my fancy when I first began reading, but it turned out to be a very good read! The characters were delightful and I am hoping that there will be more to come. This is a period piece, 1840's Massachusetts, using the language of the time. The mysteries were nicely crafted. My only complaint was that the editing was poor. I guess the computer age is the typo age...
Anna Loan-Wilsey
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well researched, captivating and compelling until the very end, Thoreau at Devil's Perch is both mystery and love story during a time that appeared deceptively simple. Through their diaries, the main characters, Adam and Julia become to feel like old friends you want to revisit again and again. I've never been a fan of using historical figures in fiction - B.B. Oak has changed my mind. Well done!
Dec 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was not at all what I expected from the so-called 'reviews.' It is awful. Poorly written in all respects. Lousy stilted dialogue among poorly developed characters and a pathetic story line. These authors should not have coat-tailed Thoreau's name onto this dreadful book. I did not bother to finish it and regretted wasting the time I did on it.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Luckily, the author did not attempt to speak from Thoreau's perspective. The narrators are friends of his. Interesting try at a historical mystery. Manages to include injustices done to women, native Americans, and blacks.
Dave Maddock
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel, mystery
A charming mystery novel set in historic Concord and featuring Henry David Thoreau as a supporting character. Being a first novel, it is a bit amateurishly written at times, but still manages to deliver.
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B. B. OAK is the pen name of husband and wife Ben and Beth Oak, who write the historical mystery series featuring Henry David Thoreau, a self-reliant loner with his own code of honor and his own sense of justice.
The first book in the series was THOREAU AT DEVIL'S PERCH, followed by THOREAU ON WOLF HILL, and the latest is THOREAU IN PHANTOM BOG.
"Death from a Bad Heart," a short story featuring th

Other books in the series

Henry David Thoreau Mystery (3 books)
  • Thoreau on Wolf Hill (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #2)
  • Thoreau in Phantom Bog (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #3)