Review: Murder 101 by Maggie Barbieri

31. Murder 101 by Maggie Barbieri
Publication: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (November 27, 2007), Paperback, 320pp / ISBN 0312947623
Genre: Mystery
Read: February 18, 2010
Source: PBS
Summary from Amazon:

Safely outside the New York City limits, St. Thomas College was supposed to promise peace and quiet. Unfortunately, English professor Alison Bergeron has found it to be anything but. She recently divorced a fellow faculty member and, more recently, her car was stolen. Then one evening, she gets a visit from two homicide detectives from the NYPD. The good news is that they found Alison’s beat-up Volvo; the bad news is that the body of one of the students in her Shakespeare seminar was in the trunk.

Now, not only must Alison continue to hoof it to campus (a fate almost worse than death), she’s become a prime suspect for a murder she did not commit—and her efforts to clear her name have landed her in hot water with an even hotter Detective Bobby Crawford, who happens to be a former altar boy, and the sinfully suspicious nuns of St. Thomas. All hell’s about to break loose if Alison can’t find the real killer…before it’s too late.


I talked a little bit about this book last Thursday, where I mentioned that Alison, the heroine detective, doesn’t really fit into any of the cozy mystery cliches. She’s not plucky. She cries a lot, and tends to throw up when she’s nervous. She’s also not really nosy or prone to solving anything, and that’s where my disappointment lay with Murder 101.

See, I appreciated Alison as a character because she wasn’t cliched– but I’m disappointed because neither dos she have any interest in solving the mystery until maybe two chapters from the end! Murder 101 is less “amateur detective solves mystery” and more “amateur detective has inappropriate relationship with police officer while HE solves the mystery.” Seriously, the whole book was basically Alison flirting and making out with a police officer who’s technically supposed to be surveillance-ing her because she’s a suspect. HELLO. She’s a murder suspect, stop trying to get in her pants!

That whole thing made me really uncomfortable, because how good a police officer is this guy if he can’t maintain a professional relationship with the suspects he’s investigating? And then Alison doesn’t bother trying to figure anything out until after she’s been kidnapped twice and hit over the head a few times. Bah.

I think maybe this book was more Alison growing a spine than learning how to be a detective, and that maybe the next book will have her being more pro-active in whatever mystery she’s entangled herself. So even though I liked the humor, and the mystery was intriguing, and Alison was weird enough for me to like her, I was still disappointed. The good stuff made up (mostly) for the stuff I didn’t like, and it’s not a bad book, but it might be a while before I read the sequel.


Find your own copy @ Amazon or IndieBound. Want my copy? Buy it here.

Other reviews: The Book Resort Reviews | Miss Print | Southern Princess

Oh! And that summary? Yeah, there’s no suspicious nuns. Only one nun shows up, and she’s more grumpy than anything else. Stupid lying back-cover summaries.

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