Coming Up Murder by Mary Angela is what one would call a “cozy” mystery. You won’t find any blood and gore here but what you will find is a clear, definitive, murder mystery deftly handled by the author. In this, a continuation of her adventures, Professor Emmeline Prather, an English Literature professor at a small, midwestern University in Copper Bluff is dragged into a murder mystery that twists and turns like a coiling snake. The University is holding a Shakespeare Festival and much pomp and ceremony will accompany the display of an original Shakespeare Folio, a refurbished Shakespeare Garden, a performance by the performing arts department of Hamlet as well as music and a celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday and death. When the actor playing Hamlet pronounces in one of the University’s forums during the week that he will conclusively prove that Shakespeare was not actually the author of the work attributed to his name, consternation on campus is rife. When Tanner Sparks is found dead on a bench in the Shakespeare Park, the day after opening night, a murder mystery is revealed and Professor Prather along with her boyfriend Lenny drop their academic pose to pick up the amateur sleuthing persona for which she is so well known in Copper Bluff.
What I particularly liked about Coming Up Murder was the simple, unpretentious and clean way in which author Mary Angela wrote the story. Yes, it was about murder but she was not about to assail her readers with all the gore and violence as so many authors are wont to do. I enjoyed the gentle, relaxed pace of the story and the blooming relationship between Em and Lenny. I also found the character of the nosy but well-meaning neighbor Mrs. Gunderson to be one that many readers would identify with and smile while reading. The story definitely had the requisite red-herrings and switchbacks that murder/mystery readers look for and right to the last chapter, I, like I’m sure most readers were still tossing up the possibilities among the suspect list. Angela’s writing style is simple, conversational and extremely readable. I’m not a massive reader of “cozy” mysteries but this book served to remind me of why the genre exists and why its readership is so dedicated and loyal. The greatest compliment I can pay any author who writes a series with the same characters is to say that I am now invested enough in the characters created to want to read other books in the series. If this is your genre and you haven’t discovered this author yet, I would urge you to try it. If this isn’t your usual genre, relax, sit-down, put your feet up and enjoy a good, old-fashioned murder/mystery that is hard to put down.