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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Murder Misread

I can honestly say that I have not read the entire Maggie Ryan series of books, but I have read book 6 and now book 7. I had hoped that there might have been something to draw me into each of these murder mysteries, but to try and hold a reader through at least the first 50 pages, is a true challenge. Not sure if it is simply the way the book begins, because the writing style is so difficult to garner the readers concern enough to even care what is happening in the book.

In Murder Misread, there is an ongoing study with Maggie's alma mater at college to work as a statistician for Professor Charles Fielding. He is conducting a study to figure out how adults read and retain knowledge so well so they can come up with a plan to teach young children. The theory implies that if you can begin with those who are mastering it, then you can dissect it enough to figure out a better way to teach it. So just as Maggie begins her first day, they all agree to meet for lunch to celebrate Tal Chandler's great news. What it is remains a mystery but one he plans to share with whomever can come to lunch. Unfortunately he doesn't make it and is shot in what appears to be a suicide attempt. Of course, Maggie is one of the first on the scene and since she has no emotional attachment to any of the people who arrive on scene, she uses her previous powers of deduction to begin her own investigation.

But who would want to murder Professor Chandler? Was it his wife, that also works on the college campus, who seems a bit removed emotionally from it when she arrives to find her husband dead? Or could it be one of his partners in the study? All Maggie can deduce is who it isn't, but firmly believes it has to be one of those working in close proximity to the Professor, but soon pieces of evidence found at the scene lead Maggie to wonder if it wasn't all staged to look like a suicide when it is clear to her, that it is indeed a murder.

I received Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson compliments of The Mystery Company and Partners in Crime Tours. I had hoped based on reading previous reviews of this series, that perhaps one book might just be flawed in some way, however that is not the case. I'm not sure what I would change if anything but perhaps it is the over the top language used that keeps readers from truly connecting to the characters. I know that they are college professors, but it shouldn't require readers to figure out what is being said or isn't said with the intellectual introduction. The book doesn't begin to even gain interest until somewhere after page 50 and by then, you just want to know who did it and what their motive is. For this reader, I couldn't really buy into those Maggie interviews, especially the wife. She remains emotionally unavailable whereas I believe most would be more than shocked to learn that her husband has been apparently murdered. Not sure I would want to chance reading another Maggie Ryan mystery and for that reason I give this one a 3 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.

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Murder Misread

by P.M. Carlson

October 1-31, 2017 Book Tour


Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson
In 1977, statistician Maggie Ryan returns to her alma mater to help Charlie Fielding analyze his reading research. Charlie, professor and film buff, is studying the eye movements of skilled readers. Maggie’s work is interesting, her kids have good daycare, and her actor husband Nick O’Connor is working nearby. But the happy summer plan is disrupted when Charlie’s popular colleague and rival, Tal Chandler, is found shot near campus.
When a turf war between town homicide detectives and image-conscious campus police hinders the investigation, Maggie and Nick team up with Tal’s grieving widow to get some questions answered.

Don't Miss These Great Reviews:

"Maggie is an engaging everywoman– wife, mother, professional– who conducts her crime-busting with quiet panache." — Margot Mifflin, Entertainment Weekly
"Thoroughly believable characters with depth and humor and finely realized senses of grief and anger. Carlson plays fair with the reader while making the unmasking of the criminal a surprise indeed." — Susan L. Clark, The Armchair Detective
"As usual, P.M. Carlson gives us a spell-binding, multidimensional puzzle, interesting background material, and fascinating and appealing characters." — Phyllis Brown, Grounds for Murder
​“[Maggie Ryan] has been a role model for women since the beginning and I loved watching her merge marriage and children with her talent for solving mysteries!” — Margaret Maron

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: August 2015
Number of Pages: 241
ISBN13: 1932325468 (ISBN13: 9781932325461)
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O'Connor #7
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Smashwords  | Goodreads 

"Murder Misread" by P.M. Carlson, the Maggie Ryan Mystery #7

Statistician Maggie Ryan, actor Nick O’Connor, and their two small children are looking forward to a relaxing summer away from New York City. Maggie’s working at her alma mater as consultant to reading expert Professor Charlie Fielding, and Nick has a gig at a summer theatre nearby. But then the body of Charlie’s retired predecessor, Professor Tal Chandler, is found near campus. It seems to be suicide–– but the gun was in left-handed Tal’s right hand. With help from Tal’s grieving widow, Professor Anne Chandler, Maggie and Nick find that friendly, nosy Tal had uncovered some dark secrets about his university coworkers––secrets that could lead to murder.

Read an excerpt:

Sunlight sifted through the trees. The creek giggled below. A little child galloped down the path, paused to pick up a pebble from the mud, ran back to her smiling mother. They moved on past, until their happy chatter merged into the rustling of the leaves.
A sweet day for a murder.
To get to Plato’s for Tal’s celebration, they had to cross the gorge. Maggie unhesitatingly chose the right path from among the several that meandered down into the wooded ravine. “I see you still know your way around,” Charlie observed.
“Yeah, it comes back. It was only seven years ago that I left. Which way do you prefer here?” Maggie paused at a fork in the trail, where one path led to a green-painted metal pedestrian bridge, and another wound lower and under the bridge along the edge of the little creek that had patiently carved out this gorge.
“The lower one’s prettier if you don’t mind steps. But it may be soggy still from the thunderstorm yesterday. I generally use this upper path.”
“Fine, let’s be prudent.” That warm Diane Keaton smile again as she turned toward the bridge. “I love this walk, don’t you?”
“Yes. I’m a hiker. You must miss the woods, living in New York.”
“Not as much as I expected. We’re only a block from Prospect Park, so we’ve got plenty of woods and meadows and ravines to explore.”
“Aren’t those big city parks dangerous?” He had to stretch to keep up with her athletic strides.
“Well, I don’t wander through them alone at night.” She hesitated, glancing at Charlie with an ambiguous smile. “Somebody did try to rape me once. But it wasn’t in Prospect Park. It was only a few miles from this very spot, when I was a student here.”
“God!” What could he say? What a horrible experience, to have someone forcing himself…. He mumbled inadequately, “That must have been terrible!”
“Yeah. Well, help arrived fast and we sent him up for ninety-nine years. Happy ending.” She didn’t sound happy, her shoulders hunching under the sky-blue cotton. “Anyway, I’ve learned to stay alert. Did you notice the guy under the bridge just now?”
Charlie looked back, frowning, and pushed his glasses up on his nose. The ravine was a visual crazy-quilt patched from dark earth, green leaves, splashes of sunlight. The original camouflage design, quivering as the breeze riffled the leaves. Below, the creek glinted; trunks and branches traced irregular dark lines through the trembling foliage. Nearer, the artificial pea-green of the bridge shafted straight-edged across the little chasm. “I don’t see anyone.”
“See where the trail widens? That muddy patch?”
“Yes. Oh!” He saw him then: standing nearly hidden by a clump of bushy young maples, only a bit of gray sleeve and a dark shoe visible from here. “Wonder what he’s up to?”
“In Prospect Park he’d probably be a bird-watcher,” Maggie said lightly, and turned back up the path toward College Avenue and Plato’s.
* * *
Excerpt from Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.
P.M. Carlson

Author Bio:

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

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