Sunday, May 13, 2007

Just finished my first Staggerford book. This is a series of books by Jon Hassler. The first one was simply called Staggerford. These are stories that take place in the small Minnesota town of Staggerford and are filled with interesting characters and small town life. Small towns seemed to be filled with interesting eccentric people doing weird things. I’m sure these same people live in large cities but they just don’t stand out and as a result are not as interesting.
The Staggerford Murders is really two novelias. The first is The Staggerford Murders and the second is The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew. Both are a delight and very insightful into the human personality.
In the first story, three residents of the rundown Ransford Hotel in Staggerford solve an old murder case and the mysterious disappearance of the murder victim’s wife. The primary characters involved in the story are the manager of the hotel and his two permanent tenants, a retired garbage man and a part time preacher, who mispronounces the names of the books of the Bible. The reader is more caught up with the characters than the murder itself. The story is amusing to read and stimulates the appetite for more of Staggerford.
The second story is that of a very ordinary man who seems to live an almost meaningless existence made more dull by the disappearance of his only son and the death of his wife following Alzheimers. He finds a little happiness and purpose when he befriends a young boy who is a regular visitor to the library. He is spending his final days on the farm with his daughter and her husband who give him more grief than joy. As an old man he finally visits his aunt who is 100 years old and finds the peace he has been searching for. It’s a very insightful story into the life and frustrations of an ordinary man.
The book now has me hooked on Staggerford and the excellent writing of Jon Hassler.


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