Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sounds Of Murder by Patricia Rockwell

After teaching a graduate seminar, Professor Pamela Barnes is shocked when her graduate assistant Kent comes to her and announces that he's found a dead body in their computer lab.  She is even more shocked when she goes with Kent and discovers that it is one of her peers, Dr. Charlotte Clark.  Charlotte has been strangled with the cord of headset at one of the computers.

Charlotte is the star of the Psychology Department at Grace University.  A renowned scholar and fund-raiser, she published more research and won more grants than anyone else in the department.  Who could have killed her?  It seems that the suspects are legion.  There is Mitchell Marks, head of the department, who was overheard in a shouting match with Charlotte the evening of the murder.  There are departmental rivalries with some professors resenting Charlotte's popularity with the students and others resenting the money she brought in as they felt their areas were slighted financially compared to her budget.  There are three professors fighting for tenure and only two spots.  Since Charlotte was head of the tenure committee, it provides another source of suspects since tenure is a professional make or break situation.

Pamela is questioned closely by the police.  She later visits the lab where Charlotte was murdered, and realises that there is a recording of the murder that was inadvertedly left behind by the murderer.  Since Pamela's speciality is the psychology of speech and the study of different noises, she can't resist making a copy of the recording when she gives one to the police.  Her actions do nothing more than make her a target for the killer.  Will the murderer be discovered before Pamela is killed herself?

This is Patricia Rockwell's first mystery, and could easily be the start of a series.  The reader will enjoy the characters, and those in academia will recognize them immediately as Rockwell has captured the rhythms and conflicts of a university quite well.  The mystery is satisfactorily solved, with a murderer who will come as a surprise.    This book is recommended for mystery lovers. 

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