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Letter From Home [Hardcover]

Carolyn Hart
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 34.50 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 7 2003 Hart, Carolyn G
In the summer of 1944, Gretchen Gilman was working as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her assignments weren't very exciting, but it was a good opportunity for a young woman with talent and ambition to spare. That summer everyone was talking about Faye Tatum, who was found dead in her own living room. Gretchen had known Faye, and she'd known that the circumstances of Faye's life and death were much different than people imagined. Gretchen was determined to uncover the truth once and for all-even if it meant writing a story that would haunt her for the rest of her life...

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hart has created a fabulous two-in-one: an excellent mystery and the poignant memoirs of her heroine, Gretchen Grace Gilman. A letter received by the now elderly newshound extraordinaire returns her physically, mentally and emotionally to her past and to her hometown in northeastern Oklahoma. As the pages of the letter unfold, so does the story of Gretchen's summer of 1944. With every able-bodied male involved in the war effort, Gazette editor Walt Dennis agrees to give 13-year-old Gretchen a shot as a newspaper reporter. But the sleepy town is soon rocked by the murder of Faye Tatum, an artist and the mom of Gretchen's friend and neighbor Barb. To make matters worse, the prime suspect is Barb's dad, Clyde, home on leave but nowhere to be found after the murder. Political ambitions spur the county attorney and the sheriff to track down Clyde and arrest him, while less hasty Chief Fraser is more interested in first sorting through all the facts. The obviously well-researched history draws the reader into this atypical whodunit. Characters are Steinbeck vivid, as is the sense of time and place. Hart masterfully portrays an American small town during WWII.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Carolyn Hart is the author of Death on Demand and the Henrie O series. Her books have won the Agatha, the Anthony and Macavity awards. She was a founding member and is a former president of Sisters in Crime. Her most recent title is Sugar Plum Dead.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars What a tale! Feb. 21 2004
I just finished this marvelous murder mystery by Carolyn Hart. It 's the first book of hers I've read, but it will not be the last! What an awesome book! I love the style and form of this tale! Each chapter begins with part of a letter addressed to "Dear Gretchen". Next is a section in first person telling of G G Gilmore's return home for a visit to the cemetery with the author of the letter. The balance of each chapter is told in the 3rd person..the tale of young Gretchen the summer she worked for the Gazette, local newspaper, as a writer (and was given her professional name--G G Gilmore--by the editor of the paper)--and the summer her friend Barb's Mother was murdered and Barb's Father was accused of the horrible crime.
I wanted to race through this book to see what would happen next...and I wanted to stroll though it to catch all the fascinating word portraits. The words made me feel like I was THERE...seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching everything. It's winter here now and snow covers the ground, but I felt the heat and humidity of the Oklahoma summer as I got lost in this marvelous mystery.
The last chapter takes place 50-some years after the summer of 1944...and is a total surprise: tying up all loose ends in the happenings of that hot, humid summer of murder that wasn't really solved .. at least wasn't revealed...until all these years later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So Much More Than A Mystery Nov. 8 2003
Just finished reading Carolyn Hart's Letter From Home and wanted to share my views about it. It is so much more than a good mystery. This is a wonderfully warm, in depth study of people caught up in the emotional turmoil and pain created by WWII. Having lived through that period as a child, the book evoked memories I had almost forgotten existed. This book is one that lingers with the reader, provoking thoughts long after the last page is read and the cover is closed. The book captures the pain of separation and the changes in society caused by war both on the home front and by active duty in the military. It also deals with the changing role of women and the loss of innocence as seen through the eyes of a young teen living in a small town where the impact is so widespread throughout the community. It could also be termed a coming-of-age story when a young woman is forced to see her neighbors, friends and family with their flaws, weaknesses and strengths exposed by the war and the murder that change lives forever. I can well understand why this book has been nominated for a Pulitzer and has been compared to Steinbeck's work. The format of the book is very different, and I would recommend this work to anyone who lived through that era or has an historical interest in the period. It captures the essence of the times wrapped around a very good mystery and leaves no doubt that Carolyn Hart's talent as a writer goes beyond the ability to entertain mystery lovers.
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Famous writer G. G. Gilman receives a letter from home, a place she left that long-ago day. She took a train out of that small Oklahoma town at the end of the hot, sultry summer of '44. She has not been back since. Now an old friend, Barb Tatum, has written her a letter, dredging up memories of that wonderful yet horrible summer. Young Gretchen Grace Gilman had gotten her start in journalism that summer. And Barb's mom, Faye Tatum, had been murdered that summer. Now, she can't imagine what Barb has to say after so many decades. She remembers that time with a bittersweet fondness, despite the horror of the days surrounding the investigation.
All able-bodied men had left for the War. Gretchen lived with her grandmother while her mom was in Tulsa aiding the war effort. With a shortage of reporters causing a hardship for the Gazette, thirteen-year-old Gretchen was sent to apply for work at the local newspaper office. Crusty editor Mr. Dennis --- reminiscent of Jimmy Olson's boss at The Daily Planet --- begrudgingly hired her, despite his feeling that women (not to mention girls) don't belong in a newspaper office. But somebody had to do the work, so he gave her a chance. She covered the courthouse, sniffing out which of the local townsfolk had filed lawsuits or spent the night in the drunk tank. She checked the wire for news of the battlefront and stories of soldiers returning home.
One day, as she neared the police station, a patrol car with sirens pulsing rushed past her. She didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of one of the biggest investigations her little hometown had ever seen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reader's Delight Oct. 12 2003
Reading this book posed a dilemma for me. I wanted to read quickly to chase after the exciting mystery plot, but also slowly to savor the wonderful writing. It would be a perfect book to read aloud to someone.
We see the story through the eyes of a woman named Gretchen, mentally vigorous in old age and reliving events from the summer of 1944 when she was fourteen. Men being away at war changed life in her small Oklahoma town, and gave her the opportunity to work as a newspaper reporter that summer. When a murder happened two doors from where she lived with her grandmother, she found herself deeply involved.
I don't enjoy stories about teenage angst, and this is not at all that kind of book. The use of Gretchen's point of view allows the reader to see events through her innocence, rather than the cynicism of a hard-boiled mystery.
If you've enjoyed other Carolyn Hart books, you'll surely love this one. Oklahoma summers are HOT, so it will warm you on a winter night, or have you reaching for iced tea and watermelon in summer!
Kathy Diamond Davis
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best recent mysteries I have read
This is one of the most satisfying contemporary mysteries I have read in the past 15 or so years. Set in World War II, the protagonist's best friend's mother is murdered and all... Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by Enrique F. Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Carolyn's best
This one of the best books Ms Hart has ever written and she is a top notch author. She has got your attention on page one and you will not want to put it down until you are... Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of a Pulitzer Prize
LETTER FROM HOME is a literary treasure dealing with American life during World War II in small town Oklahoma. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2003 by Laurie Banton
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter From Home Hits Home
What a rich novel, a powerful mystery, a joy to read.

This novel is outside Hart's well-known longterm mystery series. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by John C. Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine characterization keeps the plot quite lively
The scene: small-town Oklahoma. The character: a world-renowed journalist who goes back to her roots. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003 by Midwest Book Review
4.0 out of 5 stars an engrossing read
Even though Carolyn Hart is a well known mystery novelist (authour of the Henrie O. & Death on Demand mystery novels), and even though the shocking murder of Faye Tatum is the... Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2003 by tregatt
5.0 out of 5 stars small town America during the World War II years
In a small Oklahoma town during the summer of 1949 Gretchen Gilman left her innocence behind and saw the world as it actually was. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2003 by Harriet Klausner
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