Friday, May 13, 2016

Bill Crider, A Bond With Death

Bill Crider, A Bond With Death
St. Martin’s Press, 2004 (OP)
ISBN 0-312-32296-8
Available as an ebook

I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss tA Bond With Death when it was published (I had read the first two books--A Knife In the Back and Murder Is an Art--when they were published), but these things happen.  Having seen a mention of it, and read a brief statement of the situation, I knew I had not read it.  So I found it, and read it tonight, in about 3 hours. 

Sally Good, who chairs the Department of English at Hughes Community College, becomes involved in two seemingly unrelated matters.  The first is a bond issue the school needs voter approval for (and the opposition to which is being led by a former member (Harold Curtin) of the English department who was forced to retire).  The second concerns accusations of witchcraft involving her--her late husband's many-greats-grandmother was accused of, convicted of, and hanged for witchcraft in Salem in the 1690s.  Oh, and the former faculty member, fondly (right) referred to as the Garden Gnome, has dies under suspicious circumstances. 

Against her better judgment, Good becomes involved in the investigation of Curtin's death.  Lurking on the periphery of all this is Seepy Benton, former math professor and now director of institutional research at Hughes.  Crider handles all of this smoothly; it is nice to read an academic mystery that gets both the academic part and the mystery part right.  (As an academic myself, I am fairly sensitive to this.)  I just hope that the plot is not drawn entirely from his experience as chair of the English department at Alvin CC.  I am also pleased to say that Seepy, who apparently moved on to another CC in another small Texas town, actually gets a chance to behave somewhat heroically. 

If you have not read the Sally Good books, you should.  I wish there had been more of them (and of the Carl Burns books as well--another fine set of academic mysteries) (and, while we're at it, we could have used more Truman Smith PI novels).  I was somewhat stunned to realize that Crider has published 43 mysteries--counting the almost released Survivors Will Be Shot Again--and 6 westerns, beginning in 1986.  Considering the man had a full-time job for most of that time, he managed to provide us with four first-class mystery series and a number of fine stand-alone books.  (I have read everything except the westerns, which I should probably read, and enjoyed every one of them.)

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