Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott who declared today to be a “first novels” day. Barry Ergang and numerous other folks were able to do that and generated reviews of first novels you should consider. A fine list and one well worthy of your attention.
I was not able to comply with today’s assignment. It has been a hard week here at Casa Tipple on so many levels. I couldn’t make a decision regarding which of my previous reviews of a debut novel to run. Instead, I went in the opposite direction with my review of a last book in a series. I offer you my review of A Bond with Death: A Professor Sally Good Mystery by Bill Crider.
The last book in the Professor Sally Good Mystery Series titled A Bond with Death opens with a familiar theme to readers of this series. Instead of a painting that may or may not have a satanic image (Murder Is An Art) Dr. Sally Good stands accused of being a witch. According to an e-mail that has been shared far and wide, Dr. Sally Good is following her ancestor, Sarah Good, down the road to witchcraft. Therefore she needs to be dealt with appropriately and that would include losing her job.
Sarah Good was hung for her alleged crimes on July 19, 1962. The only way Sarah and Sally Good would be related would be by marriage as Sarah Good was a distant relative of Sally’s late husband. The man passed away eight years ago so it is not possible to have him come forward and speak on the matter or provide love and support to Sally Good. The fact that Dr. Sally Good was never a blood relative of Sarah’s is one of those facts that some people choose to ignore because it kills their argument or claim.
Beyond the whole ancestor relation deal, there is the matter of the notion of witchcraft itself. The fact that anyone would believe such stupidity, even well educated men who should know better such as her boss, President Fieldstone, of Hughes Community College is annoying. Fieldstone is all about image and what people might think regarding the small college in deep Southeast Texas. This news coupled with recent events and an upcoming bond election for the school has him greatly concerned.
He ought to be more worried about the fact that someone else linked to the college has once again been murdered. Harold Curtin, decisively nicknamed by many, “The Garden Gnome” used to teach at HCC. He’d been there for years, was a lousy teacher, and finally the new department chair, Sally Good, recommended his dismissal. Of course, throwing a stapler at a student had something to do with his dismissal.
Gone for several years and off doing other things including being part of the anti-bond movement, Curtain has now gone and gotten himself dead. From what is coming out of the rumor mill it definitely sounds like a murder. Rumor has it that he choked to death on his own blood. Reminiscent of the curse that allegedly Sarah Good put on her enemies three hundred years ago that allegedly caused deaths then. Despite the fact that Sarah and Sally would only be related by marriage some have leaped to the conclusion that Dr. Sally Good is a modern day witch capable of murdering her enemies. If true, one would have to ask why it took so long for her to start as one can easily think of a few targets in earlier books.
Published in 2004 by Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books), this tale by Bill Crider is another occasionally funny and always twisting ride into the dark waters of academia. Along with having to deal with students and bureaucracy, Dr. Sally Good is forced to look for answers to the identity of her e-mail accuser as well as the identity of the killer. Both threads gradually come together in a complex case that puts her in real life danger far beyond being forced to hear Seepy Benton sing.
Like the earlier ones in this series A Bond with Death: A Professor Sally Good Mystery understates the violence while occasionally inserting some laugh out loud moments. Those readers that enjoy the current trend of there must be a murder in the first three pages of the work and in the first paragraph if at all will be disappointed as the murder occurs a few pages later. In addition to plenty of clues and complexity, the family atmosphere where one quickly feels like old familiar friends with the characters is present here as it is in just about any book by Bill Crider. A solid and enjoyable tale the final book in the series is another good one.
This is a series that should be read in order starting with Murder Is An Art followed by A Knife In The Back.
A Bond with Death: A Professor Sally Good Mystery
Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books)
Hardback (eBook version available)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System who do not care whether my review is objective or even if I review it. They just want me to bring it back undamaged and to always wear pants.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016