Adding to the small but tasty list of mysteries set on college campuses (which include Quieter Than Sleep, The Northbury Papers, and Amanda Cross: The Collected Stories) comes Murder Is an Art. In this fine novel of academe, Bill Crider introduces us to Dr. Sally Good, who heads the English and fine arts departments at Hughes Community College near the Texas Gulf Coast. It's the kind of school where the most popular classes are the ones held in conjunction with nearby prisons, but there are other advantages: the faculty can write articles on Buddy Holly for magazines like Golden Disc instead of becoming mired in pompous literary subjects.|
Murder enters the campus scene when a popular art professor's death is linked to sexual shenanigans and/or Satanism. In typical genre style, it's Dr. Good and her 1950s-loving colleague Jack Neville who put aside minor things like running departments and teaching classes in order to track down the killer. Crider, who clearly knows the terrain, makes his academic community amusing as well as moving.
Source: Dick Adler, Amazon.com.
Dr. Sally Good, head of the English and Fine Arts Division of Hughes Community College in Texas, has her hands full. On top of dealing with numerous complaints from testy faculty members concerning the allocation of the department's budget, she must also conduct an inquiry into the recent misbehavior of the department's philandering art professor, Val Hurley, who stands accused of molesting a young female student. And then there is the complaint lodged against the art department--and namely Val--for displaying what some people see as a satanic painting.
When Val is found bludgeoned to death in his office and the painting in question disappears, it isn't long before the department dissolves into a state of chaos and hysteria. Sally begins to realize that she might be in over her head when the student in question is found murdered shortly thereafter.
The police aren't getting very far with their investigation: Their only tenuous suspect is the victim's husband, who has disappeared. When Sally decides that her insider's knowledge of the department gives her a unique insight into the identity of the murderer, her decision could prove fatal. With a little sleuthing, Sally, aided by attractive fellow professor Jack Neville, uncovers a lot more than she bargained for.