Murder on a college campus leads an informal investigator into interdepartmental drama that smacks of reality TV.
His longtime work in libraries has primed Charlie Harris (Six Cats a Slayin’, 2018, etc.) for lifelong learning. So when he has the opportunity to audit a class in the history of early medieval England at his alma mater, Athena College, Charlie jumps at the opportunity. He’s heard nothing but wonderful things about professor Carey Warriner, and the first day of class exceeds his expectations. There’s even another adult learner in the course, Dixie Belle Compton, who seems equal parts student and fashion plate. When Charlie chats briefly with Dr. Warriner after class, he overhears hints of some sort of conflict between the attractive professor and Dixie Belle. Not that it’s any of his business, but Charlie wonders how the two know each other outside class. Athena is apparently a hotbed of interdepartmental romantic scandals among the faculty. Although Dr. Warriner is married to a fellow professor, it’s possible that he’s been conducting himself with Dixie Belle on an informal basis. Charlie has a history of nosing his way into town gossip, so it’s natural for him to consult with his fellow Athenians about what might be going on, especially when Dixie Belle is killed before the second class meeting. Ably aided by large and ferociously friendly Maine Coon sidekick Diesel and his latest kitten addition, Ramses, Charlie uses his connections to separate fact from fiction. Will he be able to solve the case before the killer strikes again?
By keeping the action limited to the college and its surrounding gossip network, James presents a sharply focused story that celebrates the role of the armchair investigator and his informants.