Though it’s billed as her Doubleday Crime Club debut, this is P.M. Carlson’s seventh mystery starring Maggie Ryan, a feminist sleuth who launched her career by solving a murder on her college campus. In her latest adventure, Maggie, now married with children, takes a consulting job at her alma mater and comes across a homicide on her first day there. She solves it, of course, after following some titillating false leads and exposing a child molester, a gambling addict, and a blackmailer in the process.
Murder Misread is a tasty blend of irreverence (Carlson enjoys jokes at the expense of academics) and sincerity (her portrayal of the murder victim’s wife is touching). Maggie is an engaging everywoman — wife, mother, professional — who conducts her crime-busting with quiet panache, assisted by her actor husband, whose histrionics help him draw information out of unwitting informants. Though her life does change a little in each of Carlson’s books, you don’t have to be familiar with Maggie’s previous escapades to enjoy this entertaining new installment. B