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by Mary Angela
Camel Press, September 2017
272 pages
ISBN: 1603816534

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It's spring in Copper Bluff, South Dakota, and that has Professor Emmeline Prather's thoughts turning to Mrs. Dalloway, flowers, and…Paris. Having wanted to go to France all her life, Emmeline finally has the chance. Her colleague Andre Duman has arranged a trip for Spring Break, and Emmeline is the associate director, assisting Andre with travel arrangements and activities for the group of students and professors who have signed up. The only problem Emmeline sees is that thirteen of them will be travelling, and for someone as superstitious as Emmeline, that bodes ill. Her fears are realized when, shortly after takeoff, one of her fellow professors dies, and the group has to return to Minneapolis. With no other flights available and a suspicion of murder in the air, Emmeline's dream trip comes to an abrupt end. But when Andre becomes the prime suspect in the case and, after their return to Copper Bluff, another professor dies under suspicious circumstances, Emmeline and her friend Lenny find themselves deeply involved in a mystery. Unable to resist putting her research skills to work solving it, Emmeline investigates the lives and motives of her fellow travelers until she realizes the two deaths really were murder, and only one person could be the murderer.

PASSPORT TO MURDER is the second installment in author Mary Angela's Professor Prather series set on a college campus in Copper Bluff, South Dakota, and both college politics and the characters' romantic lives play as much of a role in the plot as the murders themselves. Emmeline and Lenny worry about tenure and dating, other characters vie for deanships and grants, and students and their concerns weave in and out of the adults' lives, both complicating and clarifying issues. This all adds up to a believable setting for a cozy filled with interesting characters. Emmeline and Lenny are the only two characters who are particularly deeply drawn, but all are given distinctive characteristics that make them interesting. The plotting is straightforward but has a nice (and believable) twist at the end, and the solution isn't obvious, which makes it all a good puzzle. Overall, this is neither a character study nor a deeply plotted novel, but it is a fun, quick read filled with characters worth spending time with, just as a cozy should be, and both the setting and the relationships offer plenty of possibilities for future installments.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, July 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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