Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Mystery/Woman Sleuth
Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words
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“Julia taught philosophy for a period of time. Now she reads novels, writes novels, and has fun with her dogs.”
“Who killed Niles Norman, the new head of the philosophy department?
When Norman is found murdered in his office, Liza Ryder, a professor of philosophy, offers the police her help. She's worried they won't take academic motives seriously. And she also investigates her colleagues herself.”
When the new head of the philosophy department of a third-rate college is murdered and Professor Liza Ryder looks closely at her colleagues, she realizes that all have skeletons in their closets. Otherwise, why would they have stooped so low as to teach at such a dump? What would they do if someone was threatening their precarious hold on the academic life?
The setting is what separates this book from most murder mysteries. In case you didn’t know, academics aren’t like you or I. March gets plenty of mileage out of the idiosyncrasies of academics, with campus politics, strange priorities, and the different worldview found in such an environment. It also makes the use of a few vocabulary building words seem natural, rather than like the author was showing off. Sprinkled throughout the book was what I thought of as intellectual humor, such as this:
"Please think about it. Everybody knows you're the acting department head, for all intents and purposes." My students said for all intensive purposes when they tried to use that figure of speech. It always made me wonder about extensive purposes.
Walking that line between assuming a level of intelligence of the reader, rather than seeming to be showing off or dumbing down, is a tough balance, which March found. Murder in the Philosophy Department should be a hit with mystery lovers out there.
A small amount of adult language.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars