cover image Third Degree: A Murder 101 Mystery

Third Degree: A Murder 101 Mystery

Maggie Barbieri, Minotaur, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-59328-5

Barbieri's fizzy fifth mystery featuring English professor Alison Bergeron (after 2009's Final Exam) rates well more than a passing grade. At a Westchester County coffee shop near the college where she teaches, Alison bumps into a fistfight between troublemaking blogger Carter Wilmott and his arch enemy, George Miller. The police burst onto the scene just as George hits Carter in the head, knocking him to the floor. A cop administers CPR to no avail. Alison and her NYPD detective boyfriend, Bobby Crawford, believe it's a slam-dunk case of manslaughter, until disturbing events persuade them otherwise. If George's blow didn't kill Carter, some arsenic in his body might have. Meanwhile, Alison has to worry about the threatening notes she starts to receive and the disappearance of her school chaplain friend, Fr. Kevin McManus. Some punchy plot twists catapult the action to a satisfying reveal. (Dec.)