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An engaging debut featuring skulduggery on campus in the Educational Psychology department. When creative, empathetic, long-limbed, and gorgeous statistician Maggie Ryan arrives to work on Associate Professor Charlie Fielding's project--an analysis of how the eye functions in reading--she is invited to join semiretired Professor Tal Chandler's ""celebratory"" lunch. Except that he never arrives. He's found shot to death on a path leading to a campus bridge. Whodunit? A notebook left at the crime scene implicates Charge, but a pipe found there suggests grant-seeker Bart. Still another teacher, Nora, owned the gun. Is someone framing them? Maggie befriends the widow, Anne, and soon discovers that Tal's research probably contradicted Charlie's; Charlie and department secretary Cindy hated each other and, possibly, were being blackmailed by Tal; the department chairman was, maybe, jealous of Tal, the previous chairman; and the president was in a money crunch, and Tal knew it. Plus: the lunchtime celebration may have referred to a new book contract for Tal or to a clean bill of health--his cancer in remission again. Bat Maggie soon discovers something even more sinister: the stories expounded by kids in one pilot study seemed to indicate child abuse from the study organizer. With an assist from her actor-husband Nick, Maggie adds up the clues, eliminates the suspects, and discovers--a murder that didn't happen. Set in the Seventies, for no discernible reason, this old-fashioned puzzle is helped immeasurably by the bouncy, charming Maggie. A promising first mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday