Welcome back to the Advocate’s Monthly Book Review. This month I’m reviewing A Murder in my Hometown by Rebecca Morris. In all fairness to the author and the book, I will start by saying that I’m not normally a fan of the true crime genre, but I gave this book a try because of its local ties to Corvallis and a recommendation from a friend.
A Murder in my Hometown was written by New York Times Bestselling author Rebecca Morris, and published by WildBlue Press in 2018. Morris lives in Seattle, and is also the author of If I Can’t Have You- Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance and the Murder of Her Children, A Killing in Amish Country, Ted and Ann, and several other books. Morris grew up in Corvallis and has a tremendous knowledge of the history of the area.
What I Liked
Overall, this is an interesting and chilling story detailing the murder of Dick Kitchel in 1967 and the investigation that followed. The case went cold and was never solved, although the investigators thought they knew who the perpetrator was. The story was incredibly well-researched, which was helped, I’m sure, by the fact that the author attended school with the victim.
The people whose lives were most affected by the murder were well described and came to life through the writing, specifically the police officers who investigated the crime. The reader is left craving more of the interactions between them, as well as feeling connected to the people who knew Dick well before he was murdered. The book is also a quick read, I finished it in about a week. It would be a great book to bring along on a flight or shorter trip.
What Was Missing
While I believe it’s important for the author to note a few small experiences of her life to add texture and relevance to the story, I often had a hard time figuring out why so much of her own personal life was included in the story. It felt sometimes like there were two different books consolidated together, the story of a murder, and a history of Corvallis. While the author’s vast experience of the area was clear and impressive, I wasn’t sure why so much of it was included. There were entire chapters where Kitchel’s story wasn’t present at all, and it was simply a trip down memory lane into the forgotten times of Corvallis’s mid-1900s.
Finally, I found it surprising when reading a book by a New York Times Bestselling author to run into typos and editing errors quite so frequently. While allowances need to be made for human error, it was disappointing to run into them so often in a fully published work.
In short, A Murder in my Hometown, left me wanting. I would have expected something more finished from a bestselling author, and would have appreciate a little more detail about the murder investigation, and a little less about her personal story. However, I would still recommend this book to a local true crime enthusiast who wants to hear the tale of the Dick Kitchel murder from someone who was there when it all happened.
I appreciated this unexpected foray into the world of true crime, and am excited for next month to read something from another local author.
For this and other books with local ties, visit Grass Roots Bookstore in Downtown Corvallis, or online at https://grassrootsbookstore.com/
For more books or publishing opportunities from WildBlue Press, visit them online at https://wildbluepress.com/
By Kyra Young