cover image Murder is an Art

Murder is an Art

Bill Crider. Thomas Dunne Books, $21.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19927-2

Best known for his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, Crider here introduces Dr. Sally Good, chair of the division of arts and humanities at a small college in Texas. Though bickering is normal among the professors, someone goes too far when the art department chair, Val Hurley, is found murdered in his office. Suspecting a connection with the disappearance of a controversial painting, Good grows disappointed with police efforts and decides to solve the case with the help of her colleague, Professor Jack Neville. Hurley had recently come before the college president for painting a student, Tammi Thompson, in the nude, and police fear Tammi's jealous husband may have committed the murder. Another suspect is A.B.D. Johnson, a muckraking colleague who was appalled by Val's cavalier use of school funds. While Crider's quirky characters entertain--just as did the characters in his previous campus series, featuring Professor Carl Burns--it seems odd that these academic gumshoes are never in a classroom and spend little time dealing with students. Their sleuthings provide modest fun, while the novel's ending offers an unexpected tinge of sadness. (Apr.)