Conch Shell Murder Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Conch Shell Murder

Detective Katie Hassworth has resigned her teaching job when a student shot her and then himself in her classroom. She joins the student's father in a Key West detective agemcy and becomes involved in solving a murder in which the victim was bludgeoned with a conch shell. Katie talks with many suspects including the victim's daughter and son-in-law,husband,lover,secretary,Key West mayor, and Director of Key West housing development. She faces death, but triumphs as she confronts the villain and gets a confession.
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The review of this Book prepared by Dorothy Francis

Five Star, Apr 2003, 25.95, 244 pp.
ISBN: 0786250291

Though she has partnered with former Miami cop Mac McCartel for two years, former schoolteacher Katie Hasworth has been bonded and licensed as a private detective for a few months. Her confidence is limited so she is hesitant to take on a murder investigation especially with her mentor out of town even though her landlady and friend Diane Dade asks her to look into the death of her mother Alexa Chitting. Reluctantly Katie agrees to investigate the homicide ruled a robbery gone bad by the Key West police and concurred with by Mac.

Katie begins her inquiries at the scene of the crime, Alexa's office, where the culprit killed the victim using a conch shell that ironically symbolizes birth. Katie finds an obscure bullet that the cops overlooked and believes more than just a robbery occurred as Alexa was changing her will. However, she wonders who were the losers if Alexa had signed her revised will and would one of them kill to keep his or her inheritance? Katie learns the answer as she becomes a target when she gets too close.

This engaging private investigative tale hooks readers because the heroine lacks confidence yet courageously seeks to solve the homicide against staggering professional odds. The story line reads more like an amateur sleuth cozy as the violence is left off the pages and Katie is learning on the job. Katie is a delightful individual and the support cast enables the audience to understand her, especially her fears, much better even when they fail to cooperate. Fans will enjoy Dorothy Francis' straightforward Florida (no major whackos) mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Conch Shell Murder

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 15%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 60%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 15%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   very humorous    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues    -   Challenging Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60%    -   nearly 100% Special suspect?    -   lover Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   "All in the family" murder Kind of investigator    -   hard boiled/private eye    -   skilled citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book The crook is....    -   commit white collar fraud or con Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings of fear/loss/inadequacy    -   politics Crime Thriller    -   Yes Is MAIN CHARACTER an EVIL criminal?    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   private investigator Age:    -   20's-30's Has special powers?    -   Yes Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American    -   Russian


United States    -   Yes Island?    -   Yes City?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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