Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Back of the Book Blurb:
Nothing could be more remarkable than the astonishing appearance, 125 years after it was first written, of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage. Mark Twain’s delightful rendition of life (and a disturbing death) in the mythical hamlet of Deer Lick, Missouri. Twain’s story chronicles the fortunes of a humble farmer, John Gray, determined to marry off his daughter to the scion of the town’s wealthiest family. But the sudden appearance of a stranger found lying unconscious in the snow not only derails Gray’s plans but also leads to a mysterious murder whose solution lies at the heart of this captivating story.
Definitely a quintessential Twain story! I enjoyed it, although I found it quite predictable. It’s hard to say if that’s because I’ve read a lot of Twain, or I’ve read a lot of stories with this formula, or it wasn’t Twain at his best. Whatever the reason, it was easy to predict, with perhaps the exception of the Jules Verne connection.
That, of course, brings me to the bonus, which added greatly to the story. Roy Blount Jr. wrote both a forward and an afterward for this story. It is the afterward that is of particular note, as it gives some historical context to what was going on with Twain at this point in his writing career. It’s been a very long time since I studied Twain or Howells (over 20 years ago, in college), and while Blount’s afterward was doubtless nothing new to many Twain aficionados, it did pair well with the story and gave it more depth.
I am also reminded, in reading this story, how much I love Twain’s writing. One of my long-term goals has been to read his entire body of work, and this reminds me that he needs to be (again) a regular part of my reading life.