Monday, July 11, 2016

Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor - REVIEWED

About the Book:
He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations, she a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs. Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.
Can this ill-matched pair's stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college's incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse . . .

My Thoughts:
 Limited by human understanding , we will never accurately perceive God’s work in the world.”     (p. 289)

Preston Barcklay makes this observation in the aftermath of a harrowing murder mystery, and in the wake of the loss of his wife and another, equally disturbing murder mystery.  This is a unique and odd character to say the least!  His counterpart and colleague, Mara Thorn, is an equally interesting character with a new found faith in Christ – teaching on a small Christian college campus whose leadership has decided to turn their back on the school’s heritage. 

These two apparently worked together to solve another, equally intriguing case, but because I didn’t read the earlier novel, I was unable to reference the context.  Normally, that doesn’t matter so much, but in this instance, it would have given me much needed context.  That being said, Preston Barcklay’s “musical halluciantions” became a nuisance instead of the endearing quality they were intended to be.  I also had a hard time reconciling  a statement found on page 253; “A wave of gratitude swop over me, and I thanked Providence.  Maybe God was working in this world, even if He was a little bit late.”  Barcklay’s faith waxes and wanes precariously throughout the novel.  Again, I think this was somewhat accurate in the wake of the death of his wife, but I can’t reckon the wide arch of his faith if he was able to make a solid stand only 30 pages later.  Maybe he doesn’t deal well with stress.

I can tell you now that the author nailed the personalities found within an academic environment to a TEE!!!  Their behavior at a social event – spot on!!  I work in a liberal arts academic unit myself, and I just shook my head and laughed at some of the bureaucracy he describes!  Anyway, this IS a well-written tale, but the main character sort of got on my nerves!  There is a lot of loss before the mystery is solved, so if you like a good murder mystery, you will love this!  I just had a hard time getting  beyond my own opinion!  So forgive me for that and enjoy the novel!  It is a great tale!

About the Author:
Donn Taylor is a novelist and poet of varied career. He led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, a historical, Lightning on a Quiet Night (a finalist for the Selah Awards), and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File. He has also published a book of poetry, Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. He is a frequent speaker at writers' groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.

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