Death Without Tenure
Poisoned Pen, Jan 2010, $24.95
In Massachusetts, Enfield College English Professor Karen Pelletier is up for tenure. Her rival has much less experience and papers than Karen has. However, the department chair is pushing Native American Joe Lone Wolf for the spot.
Upset by what she knows is unfair treatment, Karen is also anxious about her daughter Amanda who is in Kathmandu, Nepal and her boyfriend U.S. National Guard Bureau Lieutenant and State Police Investigator as a civilian Charles Piotrowski deployed to Iraq. When Joe dies from apparent peyote poisoning, the police suspect Karen as she had plenty to gain with the competition removed. Not one to sit by idly, Karen puts aside her personal concerns made worse by a jealous “Person” in the department to investigate and soon locates other suspects from among the faculty, staff and student bodies.
Professor Pelletier's latest amateur sleuth (see The Maltese Manuscript) is a fascinating whodunit that starts off a bit slow as Karen whines about the unfairness of academic life, but accelerates once the heroine gets out of her funk to investigate the homicide. The story line somewhat lampoons the college world as Karen’s inquiries lead to stereotype characters from all lines of academia and their related issues. Fans will enjoy the New England English professor who puts aside her companion The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to investigate who killed her rival.