About the Book
Author: Donn Taylor
Release date: September 2018
“IT WAS A BAD DAY TO FIND A CORPSE ON CAMPUS.”
Preston Barclay is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations. The feisty Mara Thorn is a newly arrived professor with a strong desire to be left alone. But finding the body of a murdered colleague shakes them out of their quiet lives. Worse yet, police accuse them of her murder, forcing the ill-matched pair into an uneasy alliance for their defense. However, that proves more perilous than they’d thought. To succeed, they have to outwit the police, avoid discipline by the college’s incompetent administration, and escape threats and attacks by the unseen and ruthless forces behind the murder. It’s a one-in-a-hundred chance, and if they fail, they’ll end up unemployed, behind bars, or worse . . .
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This is a mystery for lovers of literature or music. There are many enjoyable references to authors and poets and musical compositions. The characters are developed well. Press, a history professor, is a good amateur sleuth, aided by another amateur sleuth in the religion department. The plot moves along well with a good combination of action and character thought. The dialogue was fun with many witty interactions. The university setting revealed much of the tension involved in that academic world.
There is a strong Christian message in one sense as the transforming power of the gospel is clearly portrayed. There might be some unusual content for the Christian genre in another sense. Press, the hero, does some underhanded activities in order to prove his innocence. He steals keys and illegally enters homes and offices. That's not such a good witness, but then Press is sort of a lapsed believer. He has not been to church since the death of his wife years before and it shows in his actions.
Nonetheless, I liked the novel. It is quite entertaining. Taylor's writing style shows a wide knowledge of literature and music. The mystery plot is pretty good too. I'll be looking to see how Press solves his next murder adventure.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
More from Donn
About Rhapsody in Red: From teaching eighteen years in small denominational colleges, I knew that part of the academic world well. So when I came to write the Preston Barclay Mystery Series, that’s where I turned. What would happen if someone dropped a murder into that placid environment?
That was the basic question. But that part of the college world also has internal conflicts and tensions that even the best-intentioned people can’t avoid. That leads most faculty into being discreet. But what would happen if one professor kept saying openly what the rest of the faculty were only thinking? That’s why the series protagonist, Professor Preston Barclay, is always in trouble.
In writing the series I wanted to mainly to give readers an interesting story about a murder and the complications leading to its solution. But I also wanted them to enjoy the story’s interplay of strong and often quirky personalities navigating the varied conflicts of the small-college world.
Whether I’ve achieved those objectives will be decided by each individual reader. But CBA Retailers and Resources Magazine wrote that Rhapsody in Red is “peopled with academia’s most intriguing eccentrics and snobs,” and Christian Review of Books wrote that it’s “a delightful change from the clichés of most novels.”
Readers who enjoy Rhapsody in Red may want to look at its two sequels, Murder Mezzo Forte and Murder in Disguise.
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