Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday’s Book: A Dangerous Thing

Bill Crider’s 1994 novel, A Dangerous Thing, is a well written, well crafted and at times very funny mystery novel.

This third book in the Carl Burns series finds the thoughtful, humorous chair of the English department of a small Texas college caught up in politically correct changes on campus instituted by a new dean, and the murder of an offensive and politically incorrect professor in Burns’ department.

Instead of hiding behind his lectern, Burns pokes his nose into the mystery, sorts the clues, interviews witnesses and suspects and puts himself in harm’s way from both the murderer and the aggressive local police chief, Boss Napier.

Burns and Napier tangled before in an earlier campus mystery, but this time, Napier welcomes Burns’ input. The chief’s change of attitude may be an attempt to divert Burns away from librarian Elaine Tanner, allowing the chief time with her.

Bill Crider neatly details campus changes and the different generations found there, while introducing suspects who could have done away with the obnoxious teacher. He also peppers the story with a lot of humor from the oafish chief, to Burns’ colleagues who, now that the new dean has imposed a smoking ban, must hide in a dank, dirty boiler room to sneak a cigaret. There are also some laugh-out-loud moments when Burns tries to correct some appalling student essays.

A Dangerous Thing, which works just fine as a stand-alone, is an intriguing mystery and an enjoyable look back at campus life, told in a smooth, breezy style.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Elgin. That series was a lot of fun to write.

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    1. Hey Bill – It was a lot of fun to read, too.

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  2. Elgin, I take your fine review of A DANGEROUS THING as a reminder to read Bill Crider. It's long, long overdue.

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    1. Thanks, Prashant – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Bill Crider certainly knows the college world and he gives the mystery some very nice twists.

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  3. Great posting! And you've opened the door to a different kind of discussion: there must be dozens --- even more -- crime novels with campus settings; it must a subgenre all its own, and you have me scratching my head about all the different authors who have used (exploited) the campus setting. Thoughts?

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    1. Thanks, R.T. – The other mysteries that come right to mind are Colin Dexter’s Morse stories with Oxford as a setting.

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