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Deadly Keyholes


Worth reading 😎

A child born in squalor receives help and love from family and friends, but not everyone she knows harbors good intentions.

Deadly Keyholes, a novel by Julie Morton, follows the life of Miranda, a girl born into poverty in the bayous of southern Arkansas in the early 1920's. Great aunt Genevieve rescues Miranda from a pitiful life with alcoholic parents and grandparents. In her new life, Miranda meets many interesting people and discovers an unexpected talent. However, living through the depression and war isn't always easy and her ne're-do-well parents and grandparents complicate her life as a young woman.


Miranda's story is told from the third-person point of view. This allows us to know not only what Miranda thinks and feels, but we are able to gain a better perspective of the thoughts and motivations of other people who are important in shaping Miranda's life.  Despite covering over 30 years, the novel is not long or drawn out; we experience the timeline as a series of critical episodes that demonstrate Miranda’s development into a young girl and then highlight her adult life during and after the war.


There is a very good balance between description and dialog.  The descriptions provide a real sense of the hardships of rural life in the early twentieth century, but don't bog down the story. They include just enough prose to convey the mood and successfully move us from country life in Arkansas to hotels and backstreets of larger cities. 


The dialog is well written using the speaking styles expected of country folks and city people.

‘Won’t be the same without her, will it?’ her customers bemoaned. ‘She don’t have no children, so no one knows what’s gonna happen to the place, or to those sweet girls.’

The conversations draw us deeper into the world of the characters and their relationships while keeping the story moving at a pace that is neither too hurried nor sluggish. 


The title of this book drew my interest and the keyholes are a recurring theme.  Initially, the title had me anticipating more of a mystery in the story. Instead the keyholes add to the mood of book, highlighting the scheming and the malicious intentions of some of the less scrupulous characters who appear as a counterpoint to the family and friends who love and protect Miranda. 


Readers who appreciate fictional dramas with realistic and diverse characters set in the past will enjoy this book. It is entertaining and encourages you to continue turning the pages to find out if Miranda will find a happy ending. This second book from Julie Morton may be the harbinger of more interesting stories to come in the years ahead.


Reviewed by

Books can transport me to new places and times. I can lose myself while sussing out clues in a crime or feel uplifted by the transformation of a character.

I am a part-time photographer and photography instructor.


About the author

Deadly Keyholes is my second novel. I fell in love with writing in grade school, when I won my first literary award. Later, I became a copywriter for various media outlets. I live in the beautiful, Ozark foothills with my family and animals. I hope my characters inspire and entertain you. view profile

Published on December 29, 2020

50000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by