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    Review of MURDER IS ACADEMIC by Christine Poulson (see her website)


    Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Minotaur, April 2004

    When her department head is found dead, Cambridge professor Cassandra James gets tapped as acting head--in a department that seems doomed to be eliminated. Only if she can get her fellow professors to start producing publishable material can she keep her job and theirs. With one of them getting messages from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and another completely avoiding her, things don't look promising. But when one of her students is assaulted, she realizes that there have been three suspicious 'accidents' in one very small department.

    Cassandra's investigations are limited by her increasing pregnancy. Still, she finally involves the police, alerting them to a lesbian affair between the first student found dead and the dead department head. But the police have lots on their plate and no obvious suspects come to mind. They do warn Cassandra, however, to be careful. Three suspicious deaths in one department should be a clear warning to the new department head.

    New author Christine Poulson writes convincingly of the politics and personalities of a college. Whether in England or America, publishing, getting the college name out, and playing politics matter far more than excellence in teaching. Where MURDER IS ACADEMIC fell short, however, was in the mystery itself. Cassandra spent more time cowering in terror than actually investigating. She simply ignored the most obvious clue until the very end of the book, got most of her information from dreams, and finally had the killer's identity handed to her. I enjoyed Poulson's writing style and hope that she'll focus on the mystery in her next mystery.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 7/10/04

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