2007: 139. Dead As A Dodo

“When Homer and Mary Kelly came to Oxford that October, they were not the only new arrivals.”

Dead As A Dodo,  Jane Langton

Last Darwin themed book, I promise.  When I was on the boat, it struck me that I knew of one more Darwinish book that deserved a re-read, and this is it.  It is a Homer and Mary Kelly mystery, a delightful series by Jane Langton (who also writes children’s books), that leans more towards the literary than the thriller.  All the stories are tied to literature or art in someway, and are absolutely charming (despite the death and mayhem).  For example, Emily Dickenson is Dead is set in Amherst and overflows with the life of the poet (and is my absolute favorite of her books), God in Concord dabbles with transcendentalism, The Dante Game takes place in Florence.  Homer is a former DA turned Harvard literature professor, and Mary is a scholar as well, so the literary plots are not as far-fetched as they might seem - at least no more than your average cosy mystery.  More importantly, Mary and Homer (especially Homer) are just delights.  Homer is goofy and exuberant and darling, and eventually bumbles into the ends of the mysteries.  Which, as I said, aren’t really the point, anyway. It’s hard to explain unless you read Langton how the mysteries aren’t really the point, but the books are excellent and enjoyable, so I guess you’ll have to read them to find out what I’m talking about.


This mystery takes place at Oxford, in the museum of natural history, and concerns itself with Darwin, the Origin of the Species, and God.  As well as murder, of course.  It is filled with interesting characters and theological crises and Homer’s attempt to understand science.  I appreciated on this re-read how good the Darwin theory in the book is, without being dreadfully oppressively dull (especially for a non-scientist).  Anyway, I really like this series, and think this is a welcome addition to it.


Recommended for:  People looking for a new mystery series who are more into characters than plots; anyone who is literarily inclined (but maybe you should read Emily Dickenson is Dead, too).


Date/Place Completed: 9/05/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Re-read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017