Maggie Barbieri, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95 (275pp) ISBN 978-0-312-35537-1
At the start of Barbieri's sparkling debut, Alison Bergeron, a divorced English professor who teaches at St. Thomas, a small Catholic college in the Bronx, is dismayed when her car is stolen, but she's stunned when handsome NYPD homicide detective Bobby Crawford informs her that it has been recovered—with the body of Kathy Miceli, one of her students, in the trunk. Alison becomes a suspect in Kathy's murder, but disturbing incidents like the ransacking of Alison's office help persuade Bobby she's innocent. The sassy banter between Alison and Bobby nicely balances the escalating tension of the murder investigation, which calls into question the integrity of Alison's philandering ex-husband, another St. Thomas professor. Romance, humor and suspense blend perfectly in this exceptional cozy, the first of what hopefully will be a long series.
Reviewed on: 09/25/2006