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Death Without Tenure: A Karen Pelletier Mystery    by Joanne Dobson order for
Death Without Tenure
by Joanne Dobson
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Professor Karen Pelletier is panting at the bit. Her dream of tenure at exclusive Enfield College in New England is about to come true. She has followed all the criteria for tenure and is about to present her tenure box to the English Department. But, wait! There's a hitch. Professor Joe Lone Wolf is about to receive her dream simply because he is Native American!

He is unpublished. She has two books on the bookstore shelves, along with numerous published articles and essays. She takes on extra-curricular work as well as having a deep interest in her students. He does none of this. Well, maybe he does take an interest in his students, but the reason behind that is suspicious in her mind.

When the man is found dead, Karen is a suspect! Wanting the tenure that he was about to receive is enough of a motive for the Chief of Police. He, by the way, is on the outs with Karen's boyfriend, and taking out his anger on her. Various other characters in this erudite work make the story what it is: Karen's mother who reveals a long-hidden secret to her; a Muslim student who has her own agenda; a scholarship student who is in danger of losing the scholarship; Karen's various friends who rally 'round to give her support; the department chair, a mousy man, who throws his weight around, and as many obstacles in her path as he can.

What I found fascinating is the behind the scenes of the college classrooms. And the scholarly conversations that I had difficulty understanding. Makes me once again sorry that college wasn't in my footprint through life. Death Without Tenure is a good book and an even better mystery. The revelations at the ending makes one realize that everything is not always what it seems to be.

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