Still Life with Murder Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Still Life with Murder

Berkley, July 2003, 6.50, 320 pp.
ISBN 0425191060

After their mother died from cholera and their father ran off with another woman, the three Sweeney children are sent to the Barnstable County Poor House where the youngest died from diphtheria. Nell fell in love with her brother's thieving friend Duncan, but he turned out to be an abusive person who hurt her so badly that she needed extensive medical care proved by Dr. Greaves. In time, she became his mistress and apprentice until the day they delivered the baby of a Hewitt servant.
Click here to see the rest of this review

Viola Hewitt adopts the child and hires Nell to be the baby's governess. Viola sweeps Nell into the world of the Boston Brahmin. After working there for four years, word arrives that the eldest son, thought to have died in a confederate prison camp, awaits trial for cold-blooded murder. Viola asks Nell to find evidence that will set her oldest son free since his father doesn't care if he hangs. Nell risks everything to clear Will because she believes he is innocent despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Post-Civil War Boston is an interesting place to be as the scars from the fighting though distant from the city still linger in unexpected places. Nell is a woman of mystery who hides secrets that she hasn't revealed which should be disclosed in future books. The heroine is a spunky woman who climbed out of a poverty-stricken and crime infested area to make something of herself. Readers will admire her and won't be able to resist her many charms. STILL LIFE WITH MURDER is a well-constructed and fascinating mystery in what looks to be a great series.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Still Life with Murder

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   1600-1899 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Murder of certain profession?    -   soldiers Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect Kind of investigator    -   amateur citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards family/friends Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

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


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Still Life with Murder

P.B. Ryan Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian