Ostara Publishing Colourfon

Ostara Publishing

24 Mar 2010
Books: Murder is Academic

Publishers Weekly Review

While this debut novel may not garner top honors, British author Poulson gets better than a passing grade for originality and for her likable book-loving professor/administrator/sleuth, Cassandra James. When her friend and colleague Margaret Joplin dies of an apparent poolside accident, James becomes the acting head of the English department of Cambridge's (fictional) St. Etheldreda's College, as well as the deceased's literary executor. An inspection of Joplin's private papers soon leads James to suspect that foul play was involved in her death. Though the students never become more than a rather formless aggregate, the faculty members and administrators are limned with a clarity that reveals their foibles, petty weaknesses and hidden strengths. Plenty of secrets reside behind the storied college walls of St. Etheldreda's, and Cassandra's safety and the future of her department depend on her deciphering which are lethal and which innocent. Poulson adroitly shifts the focus of suspicion among several suspects and builds suspense to a high pitch before delivering a most satisfying conclusion.
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