Dead Letter by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview

Posted March 18, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Post /

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Dead Letter by Chautona Havig - Book Review, Preview

Dead Letter by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview

Dead Letter

by Chautona Havig

Published by Havilah Press Publications
Publication Date March 10, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Mystery
Setting: Ohio Progressive Era – US – 1890s – 1920s
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
Pages: 267


For the first time, Madeline has permission to meddle.

Something's not adding up in the Wintherwood, Ohio bank, and Madeline's there to figure out why.

Sent by the Rockland Pinkerton’s office to investigate shady banking practices, Madeline finally has the opportunity to try out all her developing detective skills. From her new disguise to an assumed persona, complete with non-existent fiancé, Madeline takes on embezzlement in Wintherwood, Ohio.

Now, to find the culprit and get back to Rockland before Amy arrives, before Mrs. Barnes gets any sicker, and before Russell writes her off as a hopeless, heartless girl.

As Madeline figures out what’s happening, even Mr. Flint begins to lose confidence in her. How will she prove who is taking the money and why–especially after her primary suspect ends up dead?

Dead Letter is the fourth book in the Meddlin’ Madeline series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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As Madeline heads off on her first undercover assignment with the Pinkertons, her disguise is so perfect even Russell doesn’t recognize her. Transforming herself into the fashion-challenged and somewhat simple Jane Sempleton, she heads off to solve the mysteries of the world. Or at least the Wintherwood, Ohio bank world.

It was fun reading the details the author included to show the transformation Madeline made to become “Jane”. And despite Madeline’s great abilities, she was not perfect at it at first. It was especially fun to see how she was able to take a beautiful woman and make her less than attractive using only powder and an overzealous sense of style.

But Madeline wouldn’t be Madeline without going through a spiritual crisis in the process. Does the cause justify the means? Is it okay to deceive in the name of right? How does a Christian who seeks to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord reconcile this? (Hint – I’m not going to tell!)

A whole new town of characters opened up for the reader’s pleasure as Madeline used her powers of observation in an attempt to sort out the evil from the good. I enjoyed the story-telling through letters that were employed throughout, though the one she had to burn was heartbreaking.

My favorite part of any book by Chautona Havig is the way her heart for the Lord shines through so clearly, and how she unfolds spiritual truths so clearly. Dead Letter did not disappoint.

The story was filled with intrigue and heartbreak. While the ending made it clear another story is in the works, there was a (mostly – by design) satisfying ending. If you have not read the first three books in the series, I recommend you do read those before this one.

There were a few points that were raised which seemed to still need an explanation. The version of the story I read was not the final one, and so it is entirely possible they were resolved in the version offered here.

Chautona's Meddlin' Madeline Mysteries Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest) [gs_pinterest user="chautonahavig" board="meddlin-madeline-mysteries"]

3 Reasons You’ll Love the Book and Hate Me

by Chautona Havig

“This is book four, right?”

I nodded.

He looked at me with those eyes that conjure up the idea of puppy dogs begging for treats. So deceptive. “You’re going to have to up the stakes then.”

“Well, this is the one where she goes into official active detective mode and decides if she even wants that kind of life.”

“Not enough.”

He was right and I knew it. Fortunately, I’d prepared for this moment. You see, I know him well. He’s a horror writer. He likes to torment in ways that make my worst meannesses seem petty (like the time I suggested killing off Chad in Past Forward—trust me. That was kind compared to his ideas).

So, I pulled out my bigger gun and plopped it on the table. I added ammunition. And grinned.

Look, you guys are going to hate me for it, but trust me. It needs to be done. You’ll forgive me… eventually. Maybe. I hope.

Then he did it. He gave me that look. No, not the, “Yeah, baby!” look you want to see when you’ve hit a hole in one. The, “Is that all you’ve got?” look.

The work began. He suggested one thing. I toned it back. He looked like that puppy again—except this time I’d kicked him. Bless his heart, he does love his horror.

Still, he whistled his way out the door a short while later, and I grinned. Compromise is beautiful. But what does that mean for YOU?

3 Reasons You’ll Love the Book and Hate Me


Love the book: Madeline as Jane Sempleton is a hoot. She cracked me up from the beginning, and I’m still chuckling.

Hate me: Madeline’s faith and integrity are tested in this one—exponentially. Without giving away too much, her father even rebukes her!!!


Love the book: Mrs. Barnes is such a sweet mentor to Madeline

Hate me: Mrs. Barnes. That’s all I’m sayin’. Mrs. Barnes.


Love the book: Snippets of the heart get revealed.

Hate me: Russell. That’s all I’m sayin’. Russell.

So, there you have it. All the reasons you should read this book… and remember that the series isn’t over. Not by a long shot. It’s darkest before dawn. And um… a whole bunch of other clichés.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, March 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 19

Mary HakeMarch 19

Aryn, The LibraryanMarch 20

Back Porch ReadsMarch 21

Carpe Diem, March 22

Through the Fire Blogs, March 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 24

janicesbookreviews, March 24

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 26

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

BigreadersiteMarch 28

Lots of Helpers, March 28

Multifarious, March 29

A Reader’s Brain, March 30

Blogging With CarolMarch 30

Inklings and notionsMarch 31

The Becca Files, March 31


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a paperback copy of Dead Letter, a Madeline-inspired book cozy, and a book-themed candle!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries! Click the link below to enter.

About Chautona Havig

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

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12 responses to “Dead Letter by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview

  1. Anne Rightler

    Have so enjoyed the Meddlin’ Madeline series. Can’t wait to read #4. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. Vivian Furbay

    Sounds like a good mystery for a new Pinkerton agent trying to prove her ability as an agent.

  3. Linda Leonard

    I haven’t read any of the books in this series but this book really sparks my interest. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Debbie P

    I really enjoy historical fiction and this book sounds like a great read.

  5. Antoinette M

    I am new to this author/series. This sounds like a great mystery.