In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play. Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em's house, Lenny advises caution--and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they're on the brink of an important breakthrough. Book 1 in a new cozy mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Prof. Prather.
About the Author
Like her protagonist in the Professor Prather mystery series, Mary Angela lives on the Great Plains and teaches college writing and literature. When she's not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two amazing daughters, one adorable dog, and a cat who would rather not be limited by an adjective. For more information, go to maryangelabooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
My satchel came off my shoulder and the keys fell to the ground with a clang. I knelt down and was fumbling for them in the dark when I overheard voices. Abruptly, I froze. I was in an awkward position; it appeared that I had knelt down beside the car to eavesdrop. I couldn’t stand up now. Instead, I studied my shoe and pretended to tie it, despite the fact that it was a high heel with no laces.
I could not see the individualsthey were on the other side of the carbut the voices were male and female, and the two seemed to be quarreling. Her voice was quiet but insistent. His was easier to hear only because it was deeper.
“I don’t want to wait. Why can’t you tell him now?” he asked.
They had to be studentsimpetuous souls. I felt somewhat relieved knowing that if I were detected, it would not be by seasoned faculty members. I had done enough tonight to create a burgeoning divide between my new colleague and me.
“I said I can’t,” she insisted. “He’s not ready.”
He was agitated; I could tell by the pacing of his footsteps. “You promised you’d tell him before classes start.”
Was I overhearing a lover’s spat? If so, it was a bit scant on the love. I detected nothing but bitterness between these two individuals.
“Look,” he said, “if you’re not going to tell him, I will.”
This declaration was met with absolute silence, and I didn’t dare take a breath.
“No, you won’t,” she finally said, growling out each word.
“Oh yeah? And who’s going to stop me? You?” He laughed, but I could tell he was nervous.
“Yeah, me. I could make your life a living hell, and you know it.”
I was so shaken by the turn of the conversation, I fumbled my keys, and the pair became quiet. I debated whether or not to stand up and confront them. My teacherly instinct said something was amiss, but I worried my actions would be unwelcomeespecially for the boy. I knew how sensitive male students at this age could be about their egos.
“Come on,” she said, her voice turning softer, “let’s go.”
“No,” he said. “Forget it.”
First I heard heavy footsteps leave the parking lot, growing softer, then silent as they reached the grass. Moments later, lighter footsteps started off in another direction.
A sick feeling settled in the bottom of my stomach as I quietly unlocked my car. I slid into the seat and shut the door. What had just happened? I replayed the brief conversation in my head several times, each version growing more sinister. I surveyed the parking lot, but there was no one in sight. I turned the key, and the engine rumbled to a start. I quickly drove the one block to my house, the sick feeling never leaving my stomach.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Combining the romance of academic life with a classic story of murder and intrigue, Mary Angela bursts on the cozy scene. Set in a small college town with a cast of colorful characters, An Act of Murder provides the reader with all the right ingredients for a delicious literary treat. From her insights into the life of a college professor to the dramatic inclusion of the theater department's production of Les Mis, this entertaining tale is sure to keep you reading late into the night as you savor every word. —Elena Hartwell, author of the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series
Dollycas’s Thoughts Set in South Dakota in a small college town, big city drama arrives with a murder of a freshmen in the theater. Emmeline Prather was his English professor and she felt like she was just getting to know this young man but can’t imagine why anyone would want him dead. With the help of another professor, Lenny Jenkins, she is determined to find the killer while putting herself in danger. I had sympathy for the victim, his life had been the family farm and his small high school. Away from home and at college is a huge change for everyone, but he was having trouble finding his place. Em knew he was trying to join a fraternity and her first thought was a hazing incident gone wrong may have been how the student met his demise. The more she and Lenny dug into the case more possibilities and suspects came to light. As for Em, she impressed me as an amateur sleuth. She is a smart woman and doesn’t back down. She followed the clues through several twists very realistically. I was totally surprised where the clues led and the drama that ensued in pursuit of justice. I like her relationship with Lenny, it brings a little levity to the story. They work well together and exchange a few barbs along the way. I am excited to see where the author takes these characters in the future. This series is off to a great start. The mystery is complicated and believable. The characters are real with plenty of room to evolve. The setting is intriguing with a huge pool of people to draw into future stories. Mary Angela is an author to watch. I am excited about upcoming installments to this story.