COLD AND PURE AND VERY DEAD by Joanne Dobson
A KAREN PELLETIER MYSTERY
Doubleday, January 2001
English Professor Karen Pelletier sets off a storm of intrigue and murder when off-handedly mentions a 1950s sexual thriller as 'novel of the century.' The reporter following the story is killed--apparently by the long-reclusive author, yet Karen can't quite believe the evidence. Something is wrong here. It may not be 19th century American Literature, but Karen believes she can help find the truth.
The 1950's novel, Oblivion Falls told a semi-autobiographical story of lust, sex, social aspirations, and death. Karen can't help thinking there is a connection between this long-forgotten but now suddenly rediscovered novel and the murder. When a second murder occurs, she is certain. But none of her theories quite make sense. The author isn't talking.
Set in a convincing East Coast university environment, COLD AND PURE AND VERY DEAD (refering to the type of authors normally favored by the college environment) is a fast-paced light mystery. Joanne Dobson, herself a college professor, clearly knows the academic environment--mention of departmental meetings and the internal politics rings true. Karen's personal angst over her relationships (or lack of the same) and her dealings with the family who disapproves of her intellectual pursuits fleshes out this character and increases reader sympathy with her dangers. Although the reader is likely to guess the true perpetrator fairly early, understanding the motivations and watching Karen search for the truth is the real fun of this novel.
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