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DAMNED IF SHE DOES by Kathleen Kelley  Reardon


by Kathleen Kelley Reardon

Publisher: BookBaby

Siblings Meg and Shamus Doherty return in Reardon’s (They Don’t Get It, Do They?, 2015, etc.) second mystery set in the world of academia.

At a New York City conference of academics, a young group seeking tenure presents their research papers, and all hope for publication in a prestigious journal. Meg, a college professor, discovers journal editor Stanley Evans stabbed to death, just before one of the conference sessions. She panics and runs away, which causes Detective Jeffries to consider her a person of interest. Fortunately, Meg’s helpful older brother Shamus, who runs a Connecticut construction company, is in town. Meg, a single mother of a 2-year-old son, is making a rare visit to the city from Los Angeles, so it was an uncommon opportunity for the siblings to hang out. Now they must scramble to identify a killer, instead. Reardon effectively provides suspects aplenty among the quirky group of cutthroat conference attendees. Evans was despised by almost everyone, as he loved to publicly ridicule the young academics’ work and he rejected most papers submitted to him. However, Meg has a more powerful reason for hating him: Six years ago, Evans raped her. Only her friend Wesley Farnum, another tenure aspirant, knows about the incident. Reardon’s takedown of ivory tower politics is informed and searing, and she artfully stirs a dangerous cauldron of ambitious scholars. She beefs up the engaging plot with an assortment of major and minor characters’ backstories, as well as a bit of romance, and she adds in a few organized crime goons for good measure. The relationship between Wesley and his one-percenter parents feels over the top, but it results in satisfying, page-turning scenes.    

A well-paced, enjoyable whodunit that leaves just enough plot threads dangling for a potential sequel.