House by the Side of the Road

House by the Side of the Road

4.5 4
by Jan Gleiter

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Someone in a peaceful Pennsylvania town has a brutal murder on his conscience...

...but who and why remain a mystery— until Meg Kessinger moves in. The house she's inherited from an aunt is dilapidated, but she adores it— and sets about restoring it with the help of a hunky, laid-back lawyer; a handsome, witty artist; and the secretive husband of her

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Someone in a peaceful Pennsylvania town has a brutal murder on his conscience...

...but who and why remain a mystery— until Meg Kessinger moves in. The house she's inherited from an aunt is dilapidated, but she adores it— and sets about restoring it with the help of a hunky, laid-back lawyer; a handsome, witty artist; and the secretive husband of her new girlfriend down the road. But soon Meg's rustic rhapsody is blighted by telltale traces of an unseen intruder's search for...what? Her determination to piece together rumors about the sexpot who lived there before her, and the convenient death of an old lady with a twitchy heart, will drag her into a perilous undertow of greed, cunning, and desperation that could turn her dream house into a waking nightmare...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this tantalizing mystery, Chicago's Meg Kessinger transplants herself to rural Pennsylvania upon inheriting a quaint old house. There, she acquires a watchdog in the form of a persistent stray and, unknown to her, a lot of troublefor among the many secrets harbored by the quiet town of Harrison is one in her new home. Readers know what Meg doesn't: shortly before Meg's arrival, the woman who rented the house was murdered. Although we don't know who the murderer is, we are aware that he will return in search of a damning audiotape that's hidden in the house. Meg makes the acquaintance of realtor Mike Mulcahy, who also had inherited property from a relative, Hannah Ehrlich, an apparent heart attack victim. Meg's neighbors, the Ruschmans, provide her with friendship as well as the opportunity to coach a Little League team. But someone keeps searching her home, and a suspicious Meg determines to discover both the whereabouts of the previous tenant and the real cause of Hannah's death. Meg basks in the attentions of Mulcahy and another admirer, Jack Deutsch, but events and her probings propel her toward a life-threatening finale. Gleiter (Lie Down with Dogs, 1997) adds an edge of danger to the comforts of small-town life by making the most of the prickly sensation that comes with suspecting that a stranger is in the house. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Fleeing an unsuitable relationship back in Chicago, where her noncommittal boyfriend seemed to be fleeing her, freelance writer Meg Kessigner is happy to have a refuge: her late great-aunt Hannah Ehrlich's house in sheltered Harrison, PA. Despite the attractiveness of the old-fashioned kitchen and the warmth of her neighbor Christine Ruschman and Christine's 12-year-old daughter Jane, Meg would be a lot less sanguine about swapping Chicago for bucolic Harrison if she knew that Angie Morrison, the no-account tenant who'd been living in the house ever since Hannah died, didn't renew her lease because she was murdered, and there's an excellent chance that Hannah was helped to her grave too. Instead of worrying about the mortality rate at her address, Meg concentrates at first on refinishing the kitchen floor, coaching Little League baseball, training a stray dog she's taken in, and conducting dalliances with two eligible bachelors—carpenter/painter Jack Deutsch, and Michael Mulcahy, Hannah's nephew and executor—one of whom is obviously the killer (for how else could Meg decide which one to stay with?). It's a tribute to Gleiter (Lie Down with Dogs, 1996) that she not only keeps you guessing about both men but keeps you absorbed in Meg's domestic rituals as she's slowly immersing her in the mystery. An appealingly low-key idyll, even if the menace, like Meg, takes its time settling in.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Dead Letter Mysteries Series
Product dimensions:
4.24(w) x 6.78(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Jan Gleiter is the author of the award-winning Lie Down with Dogs. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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House by the Side of the Road 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jan Gleiter does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life in The House by the Side of the Road. She is also great at confusing those of us who think we may have the answer in the end. I loved the main character, Meg Kessinger and her extremely witty dialog. In this one book you have humor and suspense rolled into one. The characters are wonderful and the mystery that underlies all their interactions is very compelling, which makes the outcome a surprise. I couldn't put this one down and stayed up late into the night to finish it (and, of course, scared myself out of a couple hours sleep). Thank you Jan for a great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
But you didn't expect me to give it, like, one star, did you? I mean, why would I have bothered to type all those pages if I didn't think it was good? (For some reason, this will come out without any paragraph breaks. So it will end up looking really stupid.) I'm not sure if I should write a "customer" review when I wrote the book, but I don't actually see why not. Besides, I have to have a way to respond to "Bookworm from WV," who was bothered by italicized words and, in general, bored. There's not much I can say about his boredom except that I'm sorry. (I'm guessing that Bookworm is male because I haven't met any women who found my characters' chumminess the least bit unlikely.) But, about the italics, I'm mystified. I just opened the book and ran through 15 pages and found only one italicized word, which was italicized because it was a word used as a word. (I hope that made sense; it's how we writer/editor people describe a use like "The problem with NIGGARDLY isn't the meaning; it's what is assumed to be the meaning." In that sentence, the capitalized word is a word used as a word.) So maybe there were too many italicized words for Bookworm, but he resorted to hyperbole in describing the number. This book isn't for everyone. Anyone who likes really gritty stuff or dark psychological drama or sexual detail should just skip it. There are, undoubtedly, other reasons to skip it as well, but whatever else it lacks wasn't the result of deliberate choice. Here's a little story. My husband and I were having dinner with a friend of mine who had read my first mystery and liked it, and he asked how the second one (this one) was going. At that point (the rough draft point), my agent thought it needed more menace, so I told my friend this. He gave me one of those eye-rolling reactions and said, "More menace? Your stuff has more than enough menace. Not nearly enough sex, but plenty of menace." And my husband said, "That's because Jan follows the maxim to write what you know." See what I have to put up with? And, then, on top of that, I bored Bookworm. Sigh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There was nothing extraordinary about 'The House By the Side of the Road'. The author tries to make the dialogue more intense by italicizing at least one word on every page. A lot of the italicized words were out of context and became annoying very quickly. The plot was mediocre, the characters seemed to get chummy too quickly, and the ending was uninteresting. When I finished the novel, I found myself asking, 'What did I just read?' The story does not require great amounts of concentration to determine the killer. I would only recommend this novel to someone who had a few hours to waste while waiting in a doctor's office. This would not make my top 10 list.