How many professors can you bury? (academic mystery)

Poison Ivy, by Cynthia Riggs

Cynthia Riggs’ Martha’s Vineyard mystery Poison Ivy takes place at a small college on the Vineyard, Ivy Green, where nonagenarian crime-solver Victoria Trumbull is an adjunct poetry professor. I loved Mrs. Trumbull as a poetry teacher focused on her students’ expression in various poetic forms; and as advocate for three students whose research is plagiarized by their tenure-seeking sociology professor. An overarching theme is the (often abusive) power struggle that plays out in a dozen deadly ways in the college tenure process.

Mrs. Trumbull finds the first body– a tenured professor dead a few weeks without anyone missing him. Thanks to the caretaker’s dog who has a nose for cadavers, more bodies are exhumed. Soon the campus is pock-marked by graves dug by a perfectly respectable serial killer twisted and scarred from his own tenure ordeal. As the drama unfolded, I cheered for the two women who opted out of tenure madness and admired Riggs’ masterful use of absurdity. Brava!

The Corpse with the Ruby Lips (academic mystery)

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.