REVIEW: ... A DANGEROUS THING
AUTHOR: Bill Crider
In this installment of the Carl Burns mysteries, which take place at Hartley Gorman College in the very small Texas town of Pecan City, Burns and his fellow professors Mal Tomlin and Early Fox aren’t at all happy about the new Academic Dean, Dr. Gwendolyn Partridge and her sidekick of sorts, Eric Holt, a new faculty member in the English Department (which happens to be where Burns teaches). And that may possibly be the longest sentence I’ve ever written.
Anyhow, Dr. Partridge has all sorts of new-agey ideas and emphasizes political correctness in thought and deed. This, along with Holt’s being her pet favorite prof, as it were, isn’t sitting well with the three main players of the series.
Then, amid all the hubbub the new dean’s attitudes cause, another professor goes tumbling down to the pavement from a third-floor window in Burns’ building. And, of course, he didn’t just trip and fall or this wouldn’t be much of a murder mystery.
Burns is a sardonic and trenchant observer of all things. He’s a most likeable and entertaining amateur sleuth. But I wouldn’t call this book a cozy. It’s more like an academic mystery with an edge.
As an amateur sleuth, Burns tends to knock heads a bit with the local chief of police, Boss (R.M.) Napier. Not just over his sleuthing, because Burns has been known to solve the occasional mystery in a most helpful manner for the cops. However, there is friction between the men, due to their rivalry for the affections of Elaine Tanner, librarian and world-class trophy collector.
This novel pokes great fun at the whole liberal arts college/PC/aging hippie thing, while telling an intelligent and riveting puzzle mystery, with enough sharp edges to keep it from being too sweet and enough heart to make you smile at the end.