Annie Finds Murder in College
Years ago (probably close to 20 at this point), I listened to A Little Class on Murder, but that was my only exposure to Annie Lawrence Darling and Death on Demand before I started listening to the series from the beginning a couple years ago. I was looking forward to getting to this book again even though I only remembered a couple of things about the book. And the series finally clicked into place for me as I was reading it.
Annie has been asked to teach a class on the Three Grand Dame of the mystery at the college in Chastain as an elective in the journalism department. After some initial trepidation, she is excited to teach on three of her favorite authors. Her enthusiasm is somewhat dimmed when she meets her colleagues and sees the tension just below the surface in the department. Things get even worse when she sees who is crashing her class.
However, nothing could have prepared her for the problems in the department to boil over into headlines in the student newspaper. It isn’t long before death follows. With her new husband, Max, Annie plunges in to see just what is going on. Will they figure it out?
As I was listening to this book and laughing at the antics of the characters it suddenly clicked for me that this is a humorous mystery series. I know, I know, I can be slow, can’t I? However, I feel like the series has finally hit its stride here. For example, Annie wasn’t so quick to fly off the handle at those around her. Since she was calmer, I was better able to appreciate the humor instead of being frustrated like she had been in the past. I think it also helped that the antics of the characters were just so funny this time around, too. I will say I found some of the character’s antics funny in the past, so I’m not quite sure why this one felt different, but it did, and in a good way.
The characters can still be a bit thin. Once again, we meet all the suspects at once, which is a little frustrating. However, I’ve learned to be patient because they will become more distinct as the book goes along. That was true again here. Even so, all the characters, suspects and series regulars, could use just a bit more to make them fully alive. But that’s a minor point.
The mystery is strong as always. This is a great puzzle with plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep us guessing. I was surprised at the outcome, but it made perfect sense once Annie explained how she had figured it out.
In the past, I’ve complained about the references to other mysteries contained in this series. I was happy to see that they were toned down in this book. Don’t misunderstand, they are still there and still plentiful. However, they fit the story better and we were spared the lists of characters, authors, and titles, we sometimes got in the first four books.
Naturally, most of these references are to the three authors Annie is teaching in her class, Dorothy L. Sayers, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Agatha Christie. I’m not as familiar with them as I should be, but the references always made sense in the context of the story and I understand how each author’s strengths helped Annie figure things out.
As I mentioned, I listened to this book again. Kate Reading does the narration, and she does a fantastic job of bringing the story and characters to life.
The characters all swear much more than I am used to in a cozy, even some of the more modern ones where four-letter words are starting to creep in. Know that going in and you’ll be fine.
A Little Class on Murder is the best in the series so far. I hope that the series is able to build on the positive changes here and continue to entertain me as I go forward.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Death on Demand series.