Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" by William Heffernan

I'm going to level with you guys - I don't really do murder mysteries so I'm not sure why this book ended up on my TBR but a departure from what you usually read is good sometimes right?

Basically, three young men leave their home in Jerusalem's Landing, Vermont to fight in the Civil War. One doesn't come back at all, one comes back physically maimed and one comes back personally changed (basically, he was already a bit of an asshole and now he's  a big, huge, cruel asshole). Our main person is Jubel, who is the one who comes back with one less arm than he left home with. He's a deputy with his dad the sheriff (or constable or something) and he has to investigate a murder. So the book flashes between the current timeline (the murder), the timeline where the three boys were fighting in the army together (where something super scandalous happens and they talk about it the whole book without actually saying what it is) and a timeline of when they were younger (oh look what scamps those kids are!).

There's also a love story, because of course there is.

Really there's nothing wrong with this book if you're looking for a historical fiction murder mystery. But there were two things that bothered me about this book.

1) There were two female characters (one a main character, one more peripheral) and they were hardly given any character development. One was like a "so perfect on a pedestal" and then one was "gold digger hussy". Felt like there wasn't a whole lot of work put into the female characters.

2) The whole point of this book is solving this murder and talking about this salacious thing that happened when the boys were in the army. They hard and harp on them both and when it comes to the big reveal of both they each get like, half a page. It's so brushed aside it was like the author didn't actually think about how to wrap it up after talking so much about it. It was a little annoying.

Anyway, I gave it a 2 star but if you are a frequent murder mystery reader or like things set in the Civil War (that was the best written timeline, I thought) you still might want to pick this one up. 


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