Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Here's The Church, Here's The Steeple
Here's The Church, Here's The Steeple by Tempa Pagel
by Tempa Pagel
200 year old corpse uncovered in the church steeple!

Publisher:  Five Star (March 2006)    

Tempa Pagel weaves together modern day small town life with the early 19th century American history in her debut mystery. When modern day forensics reveal too little about a possible murder victim to even establish the identity, only a careful examination of church historical documents can uncover the truth. This mystery will delight mystery and history enthusiasts alike.

Andy Gammon and her family return to her husband's hometown, the small and historic town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, hoping to avoid the big city life of Detroit. Naturally she joins the church committee in an attempt to fit into the small town social life. When she is assigned to the church's historical committee, she and the church get more unsavory complications than they ever imagined! She is assigned to research the the church's early historical records. Andy's search uncovers more than dusty records. An almost 200 year old body had been hidden in the steeple holding a missing church tankard. Determined to solve the puzzle, Andy turns to current church members but she encounters a problem. No one today will talk about the past. To make matters worse, a new body is found right in the church! Why is it so important to someone to keep such an old secret today? And who?

What a nice read! Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple is an intriguing mystery set in the days leading up to the War of 1812 which in and of itself is more of a mystery than more frequently mentioned wars to those of us no longer hunched over history textbooks. Tempa Pagel has a knack for drawing the reader into obscure historical church records and an obscure moment of history -- and wraps it in a present day mystery. The action is fast paced and humorous.

The sleuth writes history text books. History itself becomes a theme in this mystery. Some readers might balk at the time shifts in the narrative when the reader actually hears the story of the 200 year old past both as the sleuth uncovers the secret and as the past characters live it. Personally I loved it. For me, this is what changed Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple from a good read into a great read. In the end of this novel, as in historical studies, there are always some discrepancies between our current day understanding of history and how it was actually lived. The narrative style allows the reader to see these slight discrepancies. I love an intriguing resolution to a mystery puzzle but Pagel's technique doubled my reading pleasure.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews

Merrimon Book Reviews

Custom Search

Copyright Merrimon Crawford  2007-8  All Rights Reserved