The Staggerford Murders

The Staggerford Murders

3.5 2
by Jon Hassler
     
 

Filled with his trademark humor and warmth, Jon Hassler's The Staggerford Murders and The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy's Nephew offer a welcome return to the town that has captivated readers for years.

In The Staggerford Murders, residents of the Ransford Hotel "solve" the nine- year-old murder of esteemed Staggerford citizen Neddy Nichols

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Overview

Filled with his trademark humor and warmth, Jon Hassler's The Staggerford Murders and The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy's Nephew offer a welcome return to the town that has captivated readers for years.

In The Staggerford Murders, residents of the Ransford Hotel "solve" the nine- year-old murder of esteemed Staggerford citizen Neddy Nichols and the disappearance of his widow, Blanche. Hassler's wry humor is in full force as this wonderful tale unfolds. In the more poignant and bittersweet The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy's Nephew, elderly W.D. Nestor finds his loneliness dispelled by his friendship with a young Staggerford boy, but it is a sudden visit to his one hundred-year-old Aunt Nancy that provides the peace he has always been looking for.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Hassler, best known as the bard of the northern Minnesota town of Staggerford and its endearingly wacky inhabitants, returns to his home turf in the first of these two novellas. Nine years ago, someone killed Edward "Neddy" Nichols, and his wife, Blanche, disappeared. Now their daughter, Penny Jean Nichols, has written a letter to the local paper asking for help getting to the bottom of the unsolved mystery. Three of Staggerford's citizens-Grover, the desk clerk at the decrepit Ransford Hotel; Dusty, a retired garbageman who lives at the Ransford; and Dusty's nephew Ollie, an itinerant preacher who also resides in the hotel-discuss Neddy's murder at length. Most of the action consists of frantic back-and-forth storytelling, which is amusing but will be appreciated more by longtime readers of the series than newcomers. In the second, unrelated novella, Hassler slows down, telling the story of W.D. Nestor, an elderly, lonely turkey farmer who has endured a long life filled with love for his wife, some small pleasures and much grief and pain. The spare, uncompromising tale will remind readers that Hassler isn't solely defined by smalltown romps, quirky characters and cornball humor. (Dec.) Forecast: Booksellers could recommend Hassler to readers who remember J.F. Powers with fondness, and the Staggerford novels in particular to those who enjoy Garrison Keillor's stories of Lake Wobegon. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hassler returns to his old stamping grounds of rural Minnesota in two novellas. The first is set in Staggerford, more than familiar to Hassler fans, and concerns two long unsolved cases: a murder and a disappearance. It also features five different narrators, of whom the most significant is Grover, 81-year-old desk clerk at the town's fleabag hotel. Much of the action unfolds in the hotel lobby, so Grover makes a good witness. Nine years before, Neddy Nicholls, a Chamber of Commerce functionary, had been shot dead in front of the movie theater; soon after, his wife Blanche had mysteriously disappeared. Now Blanche's daughter Penny Jean is on her way home from California to unravel the mystery, and Blanche's ex-husband George is looking for Penny Jean. The two come together in the lobby, where long-time resident Dusty, a simple-minded retired garbageman, has just claimed he killed Blanche. The facts of the two murders are established quite fast, in a vaudeville atmosphere that climaxes in the hospital where Dusty, stricken by a heart attack, is first baptized with motor oil by his preacher nephew Ollie, then smothered by George (the heavy). The romp is a bit too frantic, and the folksiness is overdone. The second novella is much more dour, unusual for the upbeat Hassler. It's the story of W.D. Nestor, the title's nephew, at age 72 looking back at his life. Raised on a prairie farm and frequently whipped by his mean-spirited father, W.D. became an angry man, never laughing or crying, and loving only his wife Lucille (though the love remained unspoken). The couple's snowbound wedding night is the one bright spot in W.D.'s memories. Late in life, the turkey farmer becomes friendly with asmall boy; there's pathos here, but then, jarringly, the story skips ahead ten years, to W.D.'s fatal visit to his ancient aunt Nancy. Minor work from Hassler (The Staggerford Flood, 2002, etc.).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585476015
Publisher:
Center Point Large Print
Publication date:
07/28/2005
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
191
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Jon Hassler is the author of eleven novels, two short story collections, and two works of nonfiction. He is Regent's professor emeritus at St. John's University and divides his time between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Melbourne Beach, Florida.

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Staggerford Murders 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿The Staggerford Murders¿ it has been almost a decade since someone killed Staggerford, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce employee Ned Nichols and his wife Blanche vanished. These two mysteries have yet to be solved. Now the Nichols¿ daughter Penny Jean comes from California to try and uncover what happened to her mother. Her step-father George Bauer follows her home to Staggerford. At the Ransford Hotel, several townsfolk discuss her ad that she put in the Staggerford Weekly asking for help into the disappearance of her mom. It is purely by accident that the plot of Ned Nichols¿ murder is revealed while the disappearance of Blanche is unveiled as a murder. This book is difficult to follow at times, but is still enjoyable to read. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read mystery stories.