DEATH IN A TENURED POSITION by Amanda Cross

DEATH IN A TENURED POSITION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ever since In the Last Analysts (1964), the cases for N.Y. professor/sleuth Kate Fansler have become weaker and weaker as mysteries. But rich, soignÉe Kate herself, and the serious highbrow humor provided by the very literary Ms. Cross (a.k.a. Carolyn Heilbrun), have remained a reliable source of tony, Sayers-esque (yet crisply AmeriÇan) pleasure. This time Kate's at Harvard--summoned thither to help out old classmate Janet Mandelbaum, who's now Harvard's first female English prof (not the English department's idea) and the victim of a vile grad-student prank intended to link her with local radical-lesbian feminists. But soon after Kate's arrival, unlikable Janet is dead from cyanide, her body found in the English dept. men's room. Chief suspects? Janet's shaggy ex-husband (Kate's old, rekindled flame), bitter feminists. . . plus assorted Harvard biggies. And, after many intelligent, if somewhat dated, conversations about women's place in the male Establishment (Janet was the supreme anti-feminist female achiever), Kate uses Simone Well, Flaubert, and George Herbert to arrive at the truth: an unconvincing solution which tries for the grim frisson of a Sayers denouement but lacks the necessary psychological and atmospheric groundings. Still, Fansler fans will get lots of the classy, readable smartness they count on--with extra appeal, perhaps, in the portraits of unspeakably pig-like male academics. (Harvard may sue.)

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Dutton