Friday, July 10, 2015

Murder at Cold Creek College

Nardi, C. (2014). Murder at Cold Creek College. Self-Published

Adult / Cozy Mystery / Romance 

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars 

Cold Creek is a small town where it's hard to keep a secret, and everyone knows that popular professor Dr. Adam Millberg is quite the ladies' man. When he ends up murdered, it becomes clear that there are some secrets in the town after all.  Dr. Sheridan Hendley, a fellow professor in Cold Creek College's psychology department, is quickly pulled in to help manage the aftermath of a murder on campus, and she finds herself going from suspect, to liaison, to love interest of Detective Brett McMann.  As Sheridan learns more about Millberg's extra-curricular activities, she finds herself in danger because someone needs her out of the picture.  Is it Millberg's killer or someone else -- someone who needs secrets buried with the dead?
Murder at Cold Creek College is a cozy mystery where main character Sheridan really isn't sleuthing or trying to figure out the whodunit part, which is an interesting angle. Sheridan's deductions are more of an academic type and to satisfy her own curiosity and psychological interests. She is observant and shares potentially relevant facts with the handsome detective but also protective of her friends who are suspects. The murder is unfortunate, even if the general consensus is that Millberg had it coming, and for Sheridan, the murder's a bit of a burden as Sheridan has syllabi to prepare, classes to teach, and newly added responsibilities now that the department is minus one professor, a week before classes begin. It is the details of those responsibilities that consume much of the book.
Author Christa Nardi did a good job of slowly revealing the layers of the victim's life, showing that he was really a sleazy guy.  There were clearly tons of people who had reason to kill, and careful readers will pick-up on the hints and likely figure out the murderer, if not the motive.  I think there was a missed opportunity for an added twist at the end - where it seemed the murder was solved, but the suspect in custody had a separate agenda. 

There is a clean romance angle, and readers will enjoy the relationship between Sheridan and Brett.  It is not the focus of the story but nicely played out and pretty natural given the characters' ages and circumstances. 

Murder at Cold Creek College isn't a rapidly paced page turner, which is a plus for those who like a book that can be picked up and put down, but a minus for those who want high action, must know how it ends stories. Nardi writes very well and the story is well edited (THANK YOU) with very few errors, and certainly none* that get in the way of the story. The only negative to the writing is that there is a lot of detail of the day-to-day mundane activities in Sheridan's life -- checking email, feeding the dog, eating sandwiches -- which probably could be edited out because the details add little to the story and really bog down the action. 

I recommend this book to fans of clean, cozy mysteries but also who like snapshots of academia and aren't in a hurry to read.  Thank you to the author for giving me an eBook in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.

*well, just one, jive being used instead of jibe, but that only stopped me because, well, honestly, I'm a freak about stuff like that.

Christa Nardi is a new author of cozy mysteries. Murder at Cold Creek College is the first in what she hopes will be a series set in a small town in Virginia. She has a background in higher education and psychology, similar to the main character in the series, Sheridan Hendley. Find out more about Christa on her BLOG or on TWITTER.

Click for Hall Ways Review 

Release Day 11/15/15

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