Murder at Monticello Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Murder at Monticello

Homer and Mary Kelly, Harvard professors, are on their way to Virginia to attend the 4th of July celebration of the bicentennial of Jefferson's presidential inauguration. It will take place at his historic home/museum Monticello. They will visit Fern Fisher, a former student while they are there. Fern has been awarded a summer grant to write a biography of the former president on site.
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Fern has several challenges. First, she has severe writer's block due to her ambivalent feelings about Jefferson being a slave holder. (She has been commisioned to write a favorable book.) Second, she needs to fend off the amorous attention of Augustus Upchurch, elderly president of the Society for Jefferson Studies that awarded her the grant. Third, there have been a series of gruesome murders of young women in Charlottesville. Fern is not aware that the killer is stalking her.

Fern overcomes her writer's block when she develops a friendship with Tom Dean. He is an angry medical school dropout obsessed with the Lewis and Clark expedition. He has illegally pitched a tent on the Monticello grounds so that he can collect the medicinal plants used on the expedition. Fern invites him to the tower room where she is doing her research. They work on a joint Lewis and Clark/Jefferson timeline of events.

The jealous Augustus asks a friend to spy on the two young people. When this friend is killed in Tom's tent, he is blamed for the murder and imprisoned. Fern enlists the help of Homer Kelly to find the real killer and clear Tom. Homer and Mary keep a watchful eye on Fern as well through the story until justice is served.
The review of this Book prepared by Susan Coffey

Chapter Analysis of Murder at Monticello

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Crime plotlets:    -   wrongly convicted clearing his name General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes If story PRIMARILY about main chr. being hunted...    -   hunted by killer/stalker

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   scholar Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Southeast City?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Unusual forms of death    -   perforation--swords/knives Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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