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Graves in Academe

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Graves in Academe.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Susan Kenney(Author)

    Book details


At New England's Canterbury College, feminist professor Roz Howard realizes with a mounting sense of panic that several on-campus murders are being committed in ways parallel to her course's syllabus

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Book details

  • PDF | 274 pages
  • Susan Kenney(Author)
  • Viking Adult; 1st edition (September 19, 1985)
  • English
  • 8
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Tome Toad on July 2, 2009

    This is one of those books that drives home the point that a well written, engaging book requires that the author be skilled at a number of things - plotting, character development, creating atmosphere, smooth transitions. Each of these is a skill in itself. Kenney is not evenly skilled at each of these components.Kenney apparently is a writing instructor at a college. I can see her in front of the class, discussing plot development and doing quite a decent job of it.In fact, the book IS reasonably well plotted. There are murders, assaults and other evil goings-on at the small Maine college where our protagonist finds herself holding a temporary teaching assignment in the English department. The author introduces an adequate number of viable suspects. The protagonist pieces together clues, as any good amateur sleuth will do.Unfortunately, the author falls so short on the other skills needed that the reader is constantly aware of her shortcomings as a writer.For instance, in conversations with our protagonist, each character introduces him/herself and basically identifies why s/he will be a suspect. There's a "Here's my motive. Keep it in mind" feel to these revelations. Character development itself is minimal. Most of the characters never come across as real people - they are one-dimensional characters developed to fulfill a plot need.The protagonist does a lot of thinking to herself, which serves the author's purpose of making sure we understand the various aspects of the mystery, reminding us why we should be confused, throwing out red herrings and dead ends, directing us towards conclusions she wants us to make, etc. This is a standard technique of authors who don't have the skill or subtlety to get all this across organically, as smooth components of the story.The protagonist teaches medieval literature, a subject with which the author is apparently well acquainted. Unfortunately Kinney can't resist occasionally using antiquated phrasing in her narrative. For instance, after our protagonist suffers a memory befuddling head wound in a vicious attack, she struggles to remember the significance of some information. Suddenly having an insight, she "smote her forehead". Nobody in this day and age smites their forehead, no matter how amazing the insight.Another thing that truly irritates me is poor editing, as for example, when an author spends a great deal of time setting up a scene and packing it with details, then forgets what s/he wrote and describes something implausible. In one scene in the book, our protagonists goes to the studio of an artist (one of the suspects) who does metal sculptures. She has been to the studio before, and then, as now, the author goes to great lengths to describe the studio as eardrum-splitting noisy. It contains a blast furnace that roars like a jet engine. It's so loud our protagonist is forced to clamp her hands over her ears, and still the noise is deafening. While standing there, she is attacked by the killer who is intent on dumping her into the blast furnace. Fate intervenes, she gets slammed into a wall and comes to in a corner, and sees the supposed killer staring into the blast furnace, back turned towards her. She decides she needs to hide before the killer notices her(!?) so she starts carefully inching backwards on her hands and knees - and the killer HEARS her, above the deafening roar of the blast furnace!All of these flaws add up to a book with an amateurish feel to it. Several times while reading it, I found myself staring at my bookshelf, thinking surely I had something better to read. But I stuck with it, because honestly, I was curious to learn the identity of the murderer. Although as it turned out I had pretty much guessed who that was early in the book, the author managed to deflect me down the wrong path often enough and provide just plausible enough motives to the various suspects, that I was never really sure until the very end.It's an easy, sometimes annoying, sometimes interesting throw-away-when-you're-done book. If you can find a copy at a yard sale or thrift store for a quarter, go ahead and splurge on it. If you're spending real money though, look for a different book.


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