TILL THE END OF TOM: An Amanda Pepper Mystery

Gillian Roberts, Author . Ballantine $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-345-45492-8

Shortly after Amanda Pepper slips out of the headmaster's annual address to the student body in Anthony Award–winner Roberts's assured 12th novel (after 2003's Claire and Present Danger ) to feature the Philly Prep English teacher, Amanda finds her mind on Steinbeck and her foot on the hand of a comatose man at the bottom of the school's marble staircase. The victim, who later dies at the hospital, turns out to be Tomas Severin, of the Severins, one of Philadelphia's finest old families. Apparently, he drank a cup of tea laced with a date-rape drug before his fatal fall. Amanda and her fiancé, C.K. Mackenzie, a retired cop now a full-time graduate student in criminology, investigate and discover any number of suspects who might have wished Tomas dead. Meanwhile, Amanda's sister, mother and future mother-in-law plague her about wedding plans. Amanda displays a sensitivity to her students that reflects a new maturity. Amusing secondary characters help further the story line rather than confuse it as in less skillfully plotted cozies. Fans will cheer as Amanda manages to maintain her sense of humor and focus on what's important in her pursuit of both a killer and the perfect wedding. Agent, Jean Naggar. Mystery Guild main selection. (On sale Nov. 23)

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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