Thursday, August 11, 2011

Angel Food and Devil Dogs by Liz Bradbury

Publisher:               Boudica Publishing, Inc. 

Is it possible to write a real mystery story and include a romance without detracting from the mystery elements?  Liz Bradbury’s Angel Food and Devil Dogs seems to prove that it can be done.

Maggie Gale has just started her detective business after spending several years as a police officer and she’s picking up some work helping out her sister who is a lawyer.  She’s involved in a case trying to prove that a mentally challenged man did not commit a brutal murder he’s accused of when she receives a call from President Max Bouchet of Irwin College.  He wants Maggie to investigate what appears to be a suspicious suicide by popular music Professor Carl Rasmus.  Early in the investigation it becomes clear someone is killing professors as dead and injured bodies begin to accumulate and Maggie has a number of suspects to process, most of them other professors.  As she collects information on each of them, one professor becomes more important than the others.  Dr. Kathryn Anthony is beautiful and brilliant and, although her students call her the Ice Queen, Maggie senses that there is someone very different under the veneer.  She’s very happy when she can eliminate Kathryn as a suspect and begin a wholly different type of relationship with her.  As they become lovers, they also become partners in trying to figure out what the professors have in common and why someone would be trying to eliminate them.  Eventually Maggie begins to fit the confusing pieces together, only to discover that she’s been looking in the wrong direction.  That simple mistake could cost another life, maybe Maggie’s.

Bradbury has written a classic mystery – who did it, why did he do it.  There are enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing about what is going on right until the end of the book.  This is one of those books where the reader can subconsciously figure out what is happening, but probably won’t realize it until the end of the book.  The characters are well developed and convincing and the secondary characters add depth to both the mystery and the romance.  Maggie is particularly appealing as she works her way through both cases.  She works the information without making unbelievable leaps to conclusions.  Bradbury manages to write two stand alone stories within one.  The mystery and the romance could have been separate books, but she weaves them together in a way that neither one suffers.  There is a clever connection between the title and what happens in the book and several humorous scenes to break up the tension of the story.  This is one of those books that the reader will find hard to put down.

There are two slight drawbacks to the book.  Maggie and Katherine make very harsh statements about people who don’t follow an out lifestyle, at one point expressing almost hatred for them.  The comments reflect little compassion for the situations with which other people have to live. These statements only take up a few sentences out of 302 pages, but it is jarring to be reading and enjoying a story and then have these ideas pop up, especially since they add nothing to the plot.  The other problem is a number of sentences are missing words or have misspelled words.

On the whole Angel Food and Devil Dogs is a very entertaining book, well worth spending the time reading.  If you’re looking for a book to take on vacation, this one would be an excellent choice.


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