Ellie Stone is a professed modern girl in 1960s' New York City, playing by her own rules and breaking boundaries while searching for a killer among the renowned scholars in Columbia University's Italian Department.
"If you were a man, you'd make a good detective."
Ellie is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man's job-has throttled her for too long. It's 1960, and Ellie doesn't want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn't need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.
Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father's life, in the form of an "accident" in the hospital's ICU, Ellie's suspicions are confirmed.
Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie's investigation turns to her father's university colleagues, their ambitions, jealousies, and secret lives. Ellie embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father's eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.
Another new author, another debut book and another interesting mystery set in 60’s New York; this time in the world of academia – which was another first for me. Who would have thought that university politics and the petty back-biting and jostling would have proved such an interesting back-drop for this satisfying read?
I will be honest; it started brightly for me, then dipped a wee bit for maybe a chapter or two, then kicked back in with the introduction of a character whose story was incredibly sad. This turn of events seemed to offer the reader and Ellie answers as to the identity of our attacker/murderer, but with a chunk of the book still to read.....maybe yes/maybe no.
Ellie, herself was interesting – liberated, intelligent, impulsive, smart, independent and lonely. Some of the supporting cast of university scholars were by turns....loathsome, irritating, self-centred, aloof, condescending, cold, bitter, angry and devious, whilst others exhibited more compassionate characteristics. (The same as any work-place anywhere, I imagine.) Our policeman was kind, helpful and sympathetic, though I feared his soft exterior might have been a handicap in his role as a detective in 60’s New York.
Would I like to read more by the author? Yes
Would I like to read more about Ellie Stone? Yes, though in a different setting.
Would I recommend this to others? Yes, though in truth I don’t feel it would appeal to everyone. The events unfold over a period of just over a week and there’s a natural logical progression towards the conclusion. No hard pace, no fast action – just an interesting well-written and satisfying mystery, with an atmospheric setting.
A little bit different to my usual reading fare, but I’ll give it a 4 from 5.
Thanks again to Meghan at Prometheus/Seventh Street Books for my copy.
Col - Glad you enjoyed this one even if it's off your usual path. And I happen to like academic settings, so I'll probably try this one. The title itself is just terrific!ReplyDelete
Margot thanks. I thought this might be up your street.Delete
I prefer the cover to the title - a lovely pair of pins! (Am I sexist?)
Interesting, maybe my cup of tea someday, but not now while I have so much else to read. How realistic did you find it... a male author writing about a female main character? Not that it cannot work both ways, but just curious.ReplyDelete
It's funny, I hadn't considered the fact that it was a man writing a female lead until you asked the question. I suppose that indicates it came across as authentic, otherwise it would have niggled me.Delete
Col, sometimes "the interesting, well-written and satisfying mystery" is often the best kind of book to read. I'll add "clean" to it as well.ReplyDelete
Prashant, I won't disagree on this occasion, though I wouldn't always want to read this type of book.Delete
Now this sounds more like my kind of thing - I'm making a note of this one to add to the list...ReplyDelete
I thought this one might appeal to you, Moira.Delete
Academic mysteries aren't usually my thing. I don't think I've read any either and honestly, not sure I'm about to start anytime soon since I own a few already. You know I thrive on action and suspense but books such as these have their place and time. Great review though. It's always great when given the opportunity to read something different and to say: yeah, I read it.ReplyDelete
Keishon it made a nice change for me. I couldn't read this type of book all the time, but now and again maybe. I really ought to widen my scope of reading which I'm kind of trying to do, albeit still within the crime field.Delete