Publisher's Note:  

WHODUNIT?! “Jerry, you can’t do this, you can’t!”—Beaufort Prendergast, president of Chickamin Christian College, had gasped these words just before dropping dead of an apparent heart attack outside the office door of Executive Dean for Academic Affairs Jerry Pilkington just a day before Pilkington himself had been murdered in that office. The murder weapon? A poisoned apple brought to him by the pretty young college girl he’d been tutoring, Mary Belle. There’d been whispers of an affair. But wasn’t she too obvious a suspect? So it seemed to the small town’s sheriff , Jake Muffett . Along with his son and daughter, Muffett comprised the entire law enforcement community of the sleepy Alabama town of Sparta in the 1930s—and now, for the first time in his tenure, there was a murder to solve. Or maybe two murders if President Prendergast’s death was connected to Pilkington’s. At first the investigation looks simple: just follow the apple. Whoever touched it before it reached Pilkington could have laced it with the strychnine. But as Sheriff Muffett and aspiring young journalist Katy O’Halleran interview the short list of suspects, a more complicated and far darker picture emerges—a tale of sex, power, and blackmail lying just underneath the veneer of Southern respectability.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Cadence Group

Academic Affairs: A Poisoned Apple

by Peter Likins

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Overall Review:  

Set in the 1930's, this is a mystery that involves several unusual investigators.  Facing challenges of discrimination on several levels, numerous characters become suspects.  They try to take matters in their own hands to solve problems or even figure out the mystery of who killed the Dean.  The main character, the Executive Dean, has a history that has come back to haunt him.  Bad character has a way of bringing unwanted consequences and this book is all about the Dean facing the "music".  Although certain aspects seemed a bit overdone, the author, Peter Likins, has developed many characters that are fairly engaging and cause the reader to either love or hate them.  By the end of the book, we are all hoping the "good" guys rise above.  This book would appeal to both male and female audiences who enjoy a "whodunnit".

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  3 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  Character is found dead on his desk, description of body, vomit, mildly gory; character dies of a heart attack; character passes out; mention of a poisoning years before; mention of African Americans previously killed in a bar fights; pet was badly hurt in a car crash & had to be euthanized by the vet; character poisoned, dies; naked pictures of man chasing a scared woman and reaching for her hair; woman haunted by nightmares of death; woman remembers the car crash that killed her baby and crippled her; character pushes another character from a high place; mother died previously of cancer; character robbed, hit on head; gunfight, 3 characters shot, 2 dead, some description but no blood or gore. 

Sex/Nudity:  Secondhand stories of a married senior leader having multiple affairs, minor details; secondhand stories that a married senior leader is raping women; a woman previously kicked her husband out for philandering; naked pictures of a married senior leader chasing a scared, naked woman but no details of nudity; married woman knew her husband was having weekly affairs in their home; man & woman set up a sexual encounter with a married senior leader to trap, blackmail, & get photographs, no details of nudity.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Murder, rape, hazing, gambling, alcohol, extramarital affairs, blackmail.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Man gets women drunk at parties and rapes them; woman kicked her husband out for drinking alcohol; mention of a father who would have a swig of alcohol now and then to calm his nerves; man had a bottle of brandy; woman took a drink of poisoned alcohol.

Reviewed By Beth
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