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Emily Dickinson Is Dead (1984)

de Jane Langton

Séries: Homer Kelly Mystery (5)

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259677,511 (3.46)20
Although she spent her life withdrawn from the people of Amherst, Massachusetts, every man, woman, and English professor in this small university town claims ownership of poet Emily Dickinson. They give tours in her house, lay flowers on her grave, and now, as the hundredth anniversary of her death approaches, they organize festivals in her name. Dickinson scholar Owen Kraznik has just been railroaded into organizing the event when Amherst starts to burn. When fire consumes a fourteen-story university dormitory killing two students, transcendentalist scholar and occasional sleuth Homer Kelly considers that it may have been set on purpose. To his amazement he finds himself once again embroiled in what Dickinson called death's tremendous nearness as murder stalks the symposium.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I can't give it 5 stars, because its appeal will be less if you don't live in Hampshire County ( )
  LordGro | Sep 10, 2018 |
Author Jane Langton (born in December 1922) didn't come to mystery novels in any traditional sort of way. She studied astronomy at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan and received graduate degrees in art history at the University of Michigan and Radcliffe College. But turn to writing, she did, in 1962, penning YA novels (her book The Fledgling is a Newbery Honor book) and 18 adult mysteries which won her Bouchercon's 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award.

All of her mysteries focus on the same two protagonists, Homer Kelly, a distinguished Thoreau scholar and ex-lieutenant detective for Middlesex County, and his wife Mary. As the author herself said, "Mary is the sensible one, but I confess I like Homer's rhapsodic flights of fancy." Most of the settings are in the author's own state of Massachusetts, although she's also sent them to more exotic places like Florence, Oxford and Venice.

Her 1984 Homer Kelly novel, Emily Dickinson is Dead was nominated for an Edgar Award and received a Nero Award that year. It was inspired, no doubt, by the author's own interest in Dickinson, having written a text about the poet for the collection Acts of Light. The action in Langton's novel takes place at a symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of poet Emily Dickinson, where one attendee disappears and another is found murdered in the poet's former bedroom.

Langton's trademarks are all here in the novel, her memorable and descriptive settings, eccentric characters, a sly humor that pokes fun at the pompous academics and Amherst townsfolk alike. As the New York Times Book Review added, "Miss Langton is a sensitive and even elegant writer, one who deals with literate, intelligent people..."

Homer Kelly is more of a peripheral figure in this particular novel, but he sums up the essence of his philosophy—and probably that of the author—and the book quite nicely: " Homer Kelly, too, was enchanted with the afternoon. It wasn't the justice of the women's cause that had diverted him; it was the everlasting melodrama of human souls in conflict. It was the handfuls of gritty sand that were forever being sprinkled into the machinery of daily life, grinding the ill-fitting cogs against each other, warping the sprockets, jamming the mismatched teeth. It was always so fascinating, the way people went right on being so outrageously themselves, and therefore so eternally interesting."

Although not so much a mystery as a wry study of human hubris and self-delusion, the book's character studies, snippets of poetry, Langton's illustrations, and even some details about the workings of dams and reservoirs, make Emily Dickinson is Dead is an entertaining read. ( )
  BVLawson | May 29, 2014 |
I enjoyed the setting and descriptions, but most of the characters were caricatures, except for Owen and Ellen. The interspersion of Emily Dickinson poems bumped up the rating from two to three stars. ( )
  Becky221 | Jun 27, 2013 |
I'm not a big fan of Homer Kelly or Emily Dickinson, but this was okay. A tad too much poetry but nice Amherst ambiance. ( )
  aulsmith | Sep 15, 2010 |
A conference of Emily Dickinson experts is gathered in Amherst. Shortly before the conference, a fire breaks out in one of the dormitories, killing two young sophomore men. The local detectives have only a small lead on the case. The reader, however, is privileged and knows who set the fire and sees the potential for another deadly encounter during the conference. Among those in attendance are several professors from University of Massachusetts and Amherst College, a recently kicked out university graduate student who serves as a docent at the Dickinson house, a favored graduate student who will have the honor of wearing Emily's dress, a professor from the University of Central Arizona, Homer Kelly (retired detective and visiting professor), a doctor from Northampton, and an expert on Emily's family history. In spite of the reader's knowledge of whodunit, this is an enjoyable venture into the world of academia. The reader wonders how long it will take the persons with the bits and pieces of knowledge to put the puzzle together. ( )
1 vote thornton37814 | Sep 12, 2010 |
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. . . is there more? More than Love and Death? Then tell me its name!- Emily Dickinson
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After the death of his wife, Owen Kraznick went on living and teaching in Amherst, but his days had become a bewildering fluster, a tangled wilderness, a formless and perplexing dishevelment.
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Although she spent her life withdrawn from the people of Amherst, Massachusetts, every man, woman, and English professor in this small university town claims ownership of poet Emily Dickinson. They give tours in her house, lay flowers on her grave, and now, as the hundredth anniversary of her death approaches, they organize festivals in her name. Dickinson scholar Owen Kraznik has just been railroaded into organizing the event when Amherst starts to burn. When fire consumes a fourteen-story university dormitory killing two students, transcendentalist scholar and occasional sleuth Homer Kelly considers that it may have been set on purpose. To his amazement he finds himself once again embroiled in what Dickinson called death's tremendous nearness as murder stalks the symposium.

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