Foul Deeds

Susan James, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (245p) ISBN 978-0-312-02918-0
The author's name is a pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team whose insights on the academic world add authority to this promising mystery debut. Shakespearean themes tie together a series of murders at Charles University in upstate New York. The first victim, an outstanding student scheduled to play Cordelia in King Lear , is found hanged in the costume room of the university theater. Next, an English professor is stabbed through a curtain with a sword, echoing Polonius's fate. Police Lt. Polly Winslade, assigned to the case, is aided by journalism professor Tom Hammock, a friend of the first victim. Two more killings ensue, leaving the investigators with nothing more than circumstantial evidence that the killer is a member of the English Department. James neatly skewers the tight world of academia, particularly the foibles of administrators, and sharply limns the infighting of young scholars desperate for promotion and tenure. Two love stories, one of hopeful youth and one of bittersweet middle age, flavor this appealing mystery. ( June )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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