Extra Credit: A Murder 101 Mystery

Maggie Barbieri. Minotaur, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-00188-7

Barbieri’s diverting seventh mystery featuring English professor Alison Bergeron (after 2011’s Physical Education) finds Alison juggling her teaching duties at St. Thomas University in the Bronx with far more dangerous pursuits. Second marriages for both Alison and her new husband, NYPD homicide cop Bobby Crawford, create a spate of complex and delicate family relationships. Alison’s 19-year-old twin stepdaughters bring resentment and some wild romantic entanglements, while Bobby is a little too friendly with ex-wife Christine. But when Christine’s brother, Chick, is found dead in his sleazy apartment with $250,000 tucked into his mattress, events spin out of control. Alison, sarcastic and brash, wins no friends in pursuing the source of the money, as well as losing the trust of her best friend and the seriously annoying Bobby. Quirky characters complement a plot that offers a number of entertaining if sometimes illogical surprises. An irresistible hook at the conclusion will draw readers to the next installment. Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider. (Dec.)