Gosh, I thought I knew every academic mystery author! Imagine my delight when my editor called my attention to Canadian author Cathy Ace and her dual-sleuth academic mystery series. Former police detective, Bud Anderson, and psychology professor, Cait Morgan, solve crimes together in wonderful locations around the globe. Most recent in the series is The Corpse with the Ruby Lips, set in Budapest. Since I visited Budapest just over a year ago, I was happy to start there with the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Any needed background appeared just in time, and I admired the way Ace handled the history and culture of the city as integral to the story. Best of all was the dialogue between Bud and Cait as they problem solve together, disagree with one another, and express their deep caring as a newly married couple. This series is a keeper, and I know I’ll enjoy the locales the books before Budapest.
Nancy Skopin’s sixth Nikki Hunter PI mystery, A Side Order of Murder, deals with the deadly results when a physics professor involves a small hand-picked group of students in controversial research. Nikki is hired by one of the students who’s sure his professor’s death was not suicide and who fears someone is also trying to kill him. (Hint: the technology wizardry reminded me of the more recent version of the Manchurian Candidate.) Nikki leads the student on a thrilling race for their lives that combines Outward-Bound pedagogy with old-fashioned do-or-die. Side Order is a lean, fast-paced plot featuring a timid student who grows into a resourceful confident man on Nikki’s watch. While the rest of the series may not be academic, I’ll be reading every book!
Peter Lovesey has written two academic mysteries, one featuring Peter Diamond, The Last Detective, the other featuring Sergeant Cribb, Swing, Swing Together. In both cases, I marveled at the plot twists, and I enjoyed the ongoing tension generated by the personality of each detective.
What a master Lovesey is of leading the reader to absolute certainty that each suspect in turn must be the killer. I failed to guess the correct identity both times. And that little added mystery concerning each title’s meaning? He reveals it only the end, both times, and it feels like the cherry on top of the hot-fudge sundae.