"If I Had A Hammer" by Teresa Trent is a delightful yet intense journey into the heart of the 1960s, a time of unprecedented change and profound historical significance. As a unique blend of historical fiction and mystery, it hooks the reader right from the start and doesn't let go until the end.
The story follows Dot Morgan, a young woman who is embarking on her first secretarial job in 1963. The year proves to be a life-altering one for Dot, beginning with her witnessing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—a traumatic event she experiences firsthand through the lens of her Kodak camera.
Dot is a compelling protagonist—resilient, determined, and relatable. The way she handles her personal trauma while balancing a new job and investigating a friend's mysterious accident at a demolition site is both admirable and engaging. The supporting characters, each with their own distinctive quirks and secrets, add an extra layer of depth to the story.
When Dot's friend suffers a strange accident, Dot finds herself tangled in a web of intrigue and hidden motives. From the strained relationship between two brothers to her cousin Ellie's struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, Dot is surrounded by suspects and secrets that make her question her perception of good and evil.
Trent does an excellent job of immersing readers in the atmosphere of the 1960s. The backdrop of a changing society in the wake of JFK's assassination lends an added sense of realism and weight to Dot's personal struggles and the mystery she is determined to solve.
Overall, "If I Had A Hammer" is a captivating story that skillfully intertwines history and mystery, keeping readers engaged with its well-developed characters, suspenseful plot, and rich historical backdrop. It's a book that will resonate with anyone who enjoys a good mystery, relatable characters, and a deep dive into a fascinating period in American history.