Monday, July 11, 2016

Marji Laine reviews: MURDER MEZZO FORTE by Donn Taylor

Marji Laine reviews Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor.

Short Version from Amazon:

He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations, she a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs. Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.

Can this ill-matched pair's stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college's incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse . . .

My Take:

Murder Mezzo Forte begins andante (moderately) and winds up presto (intense and fast). (Yes, I got a kick out of all of the musical references!) Seriously, Donn Taylor showed brilliant acumen in more than his writing.

Preston Barclay, Professor of History at Overton University, is one of the most well-rounded characters I've ever "met." He did more than leap from the page. With his wry wit and odd quirks, he dragged me inside. His puns had me laughing aloud. Then he stumped me with his erudite vocabulary, leaving me thankful for my dictionary app. 

But the clever character with the personal soundtrack was only the beginning of the layers of this book. I'm not usually a fan of first person perspective, but it was perfect for the narrative throughout the book. The supporting characters were liberally fleshed out with layers of unique personalities. 

And the plot was outstanding. It spins up like a funnel cloud from an unexpected and unexplained death. The professor insists throughout, that he isn't investigating, but he might as well be. Everyone else believes that he is, and that twists the knot even further. Before long, he has threats on his life and outright attacks, so if he wasn't investigating the strange death before, he'd better start. As the puzzle develops and deepens, the hopelessness of his situation also plunges. 

The mark of excellent fiction is the way it leads the reader along a trail of emotions. Murder Mezzo Forte certainly does that.

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, as well as coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

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