A new job, a brutal murder, and Camelot has ended.
In 1963, Dot Morgan’s life was changed forever. She witnessed the assassination of John F Kennedy through the lens of her boxy Kodak Instamatic camera, bringing traumatic aftereffects of the brutality that happened as they stood on the parade route in Dallas.
She starts her first real secretarial job with a boss who has no sympathy for her trauma. When Dot’s only work friend has a mysterious accident at a demolition site, she digs around on her own only to find very little love between two brothers and no one hammering out justice to find a murderer.
The suspects are all around Dot and as she tries to sift through their motives, her cousin Ellie is going through PTSD on her own, losing interest in work, and her fiancé all the while quoting some of JFK’s finest speeches.
With so much change in her world, can Dot still tell the difference between good and evil?
Book Woman Joan on Book Reviews from an Avid Reader wrote:
The main mystery was strong. I was kept guessing as to what was going to happen next the entire time. Dot gets herself into plenty of trouble while investigating, which I appreciated. And yes, the climax was a page turner.
Elizabeth on Five Minutes for Mom wrote:
For older readers like me, this novel was a trip down memory lane. I like how Trent firmly sets the mystery in the culture of the day by including popular television shows and hit songs. I also like how Kennedy's assassination was part of the plot as an event precipitating action. That the event had a huge impact on people is shown by Ellie making a rash decision to do Peace Corps work.
The novel is a good mystery too. I like Dot as a flawed amateur sleuth. While she can't seem to make it to work on time, she is good at getting to finally identify the villain. The villain was no surprise as Trent was not subtle in hinting at the dastardly character.
This is a fun mystery for readers who love all things 60s.
It’s 1963 and President Kennedy is coming to Dallas! Dot Morgan and her cousin Ellie manage to get front row positions to watch the presidential motorcade roll down the street, only to watch in horror as the president is assassinated. The trauma from that event affects each of them moving forward through the rest of the year.
Dot has just graduated from secretarial college, but she’s quickly growing disenchanted with life as a secretary. Her boss is mean, accusatory, and belittling. Other workers harass her. Her good friend Maria has finished police academy but is having a hard time being accepted by the men of the force. Meanwhile Ellie was engaged to her long-time love and has her own successful dressmaking business, but since the assassination, she can’t seem to enjoy life anymore. She just drifts further away.
On top of that, Dot finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery involving the stepbrother of her boss, a sweet man who treated her with respect and who was married to Dot’s friend Maria’s sister-in-law. Although her interest in the case is ridiculed by almost everyone, there’s one man who supports her, a local journalist who’s very attractive. When Dot finds a bone at a dig site, she’s soon facing more than disinterest. She may be in danger.
The title for If I Had a Hammer plays upon the famous 60s song as well as Dot’s job at a construction company. It’s a fun light read, with a lot of information to take the reader back to the 60s–no matter if you remember them, or if this book shows you what life was like. Recommended
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