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Murdering Americans    by Ruth Dudley Edwards order for
Murdering Americans
by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Ruth Dudley Edwards is a prolific writer, having written both fiction and nonfiction. She is considered by her editor a 'journalist, author, bon vivant, and satirist.' Humorist should also be among those accolades.

With Murdering Americans, she has brought Jack Troutbeck, Mistress of St. Martha's College, Cambridge, to Freeman University in the wilds of Indiana to civilize that academy of higher learning. Not only is Jack appalled at the lack of edible food and the scarcity of alcoholic beverages, she's outraged at the unbelievable dearth of any courses that would enhance students' chances at a good career.

She sets about recruiting her own brand of revolutionaries, including an old friend she flies in from home. But a university that cries diversity is not a place to expect to find racial profiling or bullying of someone who dares to question ideas.

Jack is an absolutely delightful character with the courage of her convictions. Rather than fly home with her tail between her legs, she chooses to stay on to do battle for the students. With her parrot Horace, she cuts a swathe through campus solving a few murders along the way. Bisexual, she draws the line at college age students, claiming she is not a pedophile.

The facts about colleges and SATs and campuses (or is it campi?) are unsettling, if true. And I believe they are to a large degree. In the form of a light mystery, fund-raising and student acceptance teeter on an uneven balance beam. This book is a must for everyone who has ever gone to college or plans to go and for the collegiate powers that be.

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