Steeplechase (Homer Kelly, #18)

ISBN: 0312301952
ISBN 13: 9780312301958
By: Jane Langton

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About this book

  "A lost church?" said Homer Kelly. "How could a church get itself lost? You mean it just pointed its steeple at the horizon and took off?"His wife sucked her pencil. "I know it sounds strange."   Strange or not, Homer and Mary are soon engaged in a steeplechase, a pursuit of the mysterious lost church.   Luckily, the reader is in on the mystery. This sequel to The Deserter: Murder at Gettysburg is set in 1868 in the town of Nashoba, Massachusetts, where the daughter of the Reverend Josiah Gideon cares for her husband, James, brutally disfigured in the last battle of the Civil War. In the parsonage across the town green, the Reverend Horatio Biddle fumes at what he considers to be Josiah's brazen ways, while Mrs. Biddle spies on the outhouse in Josiah's backyard.   Central to the story is a gigantic tree, the Great Nashoba Chestnut. Crucially intermingled with its fate are a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the story "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," and the nonsense rhymes of Mother Goose. Homer and Mary Kelly will once again delve deep into the past to unravel puzzles in the present.   This novel includes charming drawings by the author and a number of nineteenth-century photographs.

Reader's Thoughts


I always enjoy Jane Langton's Homer Kelly mysteries. I was a little apprehensive about this one because it took place in the past as well as the present, but Langton came through again. (And the title of the book is a clever play on words; Homer is going around New England looking at old churches to write a book on them.)

Linda Lipko

This disappointing book does not merit a review. I worked my way through 3/4 of it and then gave up. Still, I'm counting it simply because I spent too much frustration in trying to make sense of it all.I enjoyed Emily Dickinson is dead and thus thought another of Langton's books would be fun. I was wrong.This is a boring tale of Homer Kelly who suddenly becomes a best selling author of a book people confess to not reading. His publisher insists he write a follow up book, this one about New England churches and scandals.The story meanders between the past and the present, switching without transitions. The plot is slow and dull.Highly NOT recommended.


This was a good way to pass a snowy afternoon. Langton's alternating chapters between post-Civil War New England and Homer Kelly's search for a juicy story about a church is a quick read. Dueling pastors, a mischievous young boy, a huge chestnut tree, church buildings and congregations, and likable characters make for an engaging story. If you read Langton's earlier "The Deserter" you may enjoy meeting some of those characters again; I found "Steeplechase" much more enjoyable (the Civil War battlefield scenes in "Deserter" were too graphic for me).

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