An unexpected bequest sends waves of violence through the placid groves of academe in Joanne Dobson's third mystery to feature Professor Karen Pelletier.
Still untenured, and therefore on shaky academic ground, feisty young Enfield College professor Pelletier finds herself going head-to-head with the resident Edgar Allan Poe expert, Elliot Corbin, an academic windbag of monumental proportions who is lobbying to be appointed to the much-coveted and recently vacated Palaver Chair. So when Karen receives a serendipitous bonanza in the form of never-before-seen manuscripts and journals by the nineteenth-century poet Emmeline Foster, who is rumored to have killed herself for the love of Poe, Corbin is predictably put out.
Subsequently, the corrosive Corbin is stabbed to death in his home on Thanksgiving Day. Karen has an airtight alibi, but other suspects abound--from the head of the women's studies program, who also pines for the Palaver Chair; to Visiting Poet Jane Birdwort, whose history with Corbin turns out to be far longer (and closer) than anyone had known; to the perpetually disgruntled department secretary; to a young female adjunct professor whose unbridled ambition will not be denied.
Then Karen's office is ransacked, and a number of the Emmeline Foster journals and poems are stolen, so it looks more and more as if Corbin's death may be inextricably entwined with the muse of his life--poet of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. The undeniably attractive Lieutenant Piotrowski is called in, and, as in the past, he solicits Karen's help, involving her once more in the thankless task of investigating her not-always-so-collegial colleagues.
As she did in her first two widely acclaimed novels, Joanne Dobson uses her savvy insider's knowledge of academic politics and her considerable talent for complex plotting to produce a witty and eminently satisfying entertainment.
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