Sunday, October 29, 2023

Seven great mystery novels set in academe

Stephanie Barron is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history. A former intelligence analyst at the CIA, she is the author of thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Merry Folger series, which she writes under the name Francine Mathews.

Barron's latest novel is Jane and the Final Mystery.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven favorite mystery novels set in academe, including:
The Secret Place, by Tana French

An entrant in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, this remarkable novel is perfectly possible to read as a standalone, as is true of all French’s work, a feat she deserves greater recognition for sustaining, book after series book. Four teenaged girls boarding at a Catholic high school form a spiritual pact under the moonlight in their favorite spot on campus, and unleash a chain of events that sunders their perfect friendship forever. That theme of a precious cloistered world—and of group solidarity unsustainable amidst the ugliness of a broader society—is essential to the academic mystery; violence in the form of murder upsets the balance of Arcadia, and only Justice can reverse the destructive power of evil. Laced with the humiliations of sexual harassment at the hands of doltish neighboring schoolboys, with the power of feminist resolve, and with the courage of personal sacrifice, French’s story is complex enough to leave the reader sorrowing for the waste of any number of lives; neither the charmed circle of schoolgirls nor their victim emerges free of taint.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Secret Place is among Davida G. Breier's nine titles featuring teens behaving badly, C. J. Cooke's eight thrillers & mysteries with underlying supernatural elements, Cambria Brockman's five thrillers featuring a small group of friends, Adele Parks's eight crime novels featuring intense female friendship, Kristen Lepionka's ten top female detectives in fiction, the B&N Reads editors' five favorite fun, fearless femmes fatales in fiction, and Kelly Anderson's seven amazing female friendships in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue