Mystery on campus…

It’s the end of winter break and spring term is beginning at college campuses everywhere.  I love going to school, but what to do when my work schedule conflicts with the interesting classes I want to attend? Well, of course, grab a book set on a college campus!  That is what I did this year.

Notre Dame Philosophy professor Ralph McInerny has created a series of mysteries featuring the Knight Brothers, the latest of which is Sham Rock. Even if you don’t quite understand all of the Notre Dame insider comments (what exactly is a Bookstore Basketball Tournament? ), the books are enjoyable. Philosophy professor Phil Knight and his PI brother, Roger, find themselves immersed in crime, conspiracy and murder on the lovely campus. And you always thought that colleges and universities were places of advanced learning!

While Phil Knight might be described as a traditional academic, author Donna Andrews’ books are populated by a group of professors probably best described as quirky. In her Stork Raving Mad mystery, Meg Lanslow, wife of a drama professor Michael Waterston, is surrounded by a most unconventional group of students and professors. I think it is a good thing that Caerphilly College does not really exist! This is a fun, fast-paced mystery even if it strains credibility at times.

For a book with a historical backdrop try The Dons and Mr. Dickens: The Strange Case of the Christmas Plot by William Palmer. Using the literary device of a recently discovered ‘forgotten’ manuscript, the story finds Charles Dickens and Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) solving the case of an Oxford don who was murdered in a London opium den.

Jeffrey Cruikshank’s debut novel, Murder at the B-School, is grittier than some of the others mentioned here. Wim Vermeer is a lowly, non-tenured finance professor at the prestigious Harvard Business School. When one of his students is found dead in a campus whirlpool, Professor Vermeer is appointed the liaison between the school and the dead man’s family. Wealth and police and academic power collide.  It is soon apparent that Vermeer has been setup to protect the school’s reputation.  But why and who is responsible? This is a page-turner.

Joanne Dobson features Karen Pelletier, an English professor at fictitious Enfield College. Pelletier is up for tenure in Death Without Tenure. The book delves into college politics, plagiarism, political correctness, hate crimes, drugs and academic rivalry but in the end the cops get their murderer and all is right in the New England ivy-covered walls.

Hopefully, I will be back in a classroom next semester but, if not, I will be immersing myself in some more books set on college campuses!

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

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