A TRAP FOR FOOLS by Amanda Cross


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This ninth outing for Prof. Kate Fansler is more of a conventional whodunit than other recent cases (Death in a Tenured Position, No Word From Winifred). But once again mystery fans will probably be disappointed by the plotting, even as they relish (perhaps) Kate's erudite, feminist banter with fellow academics and other relentlessly articulate sorts. Nasty, much-hated Canfield Adams, professor of Middle East Culture and Lit at Kate's NYC university (unnamed but obviously Columbia), is found dead after a fall (or push) from his seventh-story office. Suicide seems unlikely; a black faculty member is a suspect (for no good reason). So Kate reluctantly plays sleuth again for the sake of Old Ivy and racial justice, chatting with: Adams' merry (unabashedly mercenary) widow; his estranged sons, from a previous marriage: British novelist Penelope Constable, who had a brief affair with the dirty old prof; Arabella Jordan, a black-activist student. . .who also soon dies in a suspicious fall. And Kate gets help and pep-talks along the way from her informal network of women-on-campus. The murder-solution, ho-hum and unconvincing, pops up all-at-once near the end of this slight, ill-paced story. But there's a resonant final twist involving that women's network. And Cross--a.k.a. Carolyn Heilbrun--textures nearly every page with provocative (if somewhat stilted) repartee on such subjects as Freud's sexism, television-as-metaphor, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and the uneasy relationship between black women and even the most liberal white women.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1989
ISBN: 525-24754-8
Publisher: Dutton
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