Leaving her old life behind, Emma Lovett begins the next chapter in her life by traveling across the country to take a job as a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Colorado.
One day at school, she overhears a heated conversation about something special being done for some of the school’s athletes, but she doesn’t hear enough to understand the full conversation or who was having the conversation.
Not long after, arriving early at school one morning she finds custodian Melvin McManus dead from a head wound. Emma and her new friend, fellow teacher Leslie Parker, decide to take it upon themselves to solve the murder.
Did the conversation Emma overheard have anything to do with the murder? One by one, the amateur sleuths cross suspects off their list. Will they find the killer before the killer finds them?
Death by Diploma (Chalkboard Outlines #1) by Kelley Kaye was published on January 6, 2016 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC. The book is available in both paperback and eBook.
The Author taught High School English and Drama for twenty years. Her experience as a teacher comes through in her writing, giving the reader a believable view of school life from a teacher’s perspective. We also get a good feel of interaction between teachers, even the dislike of coaches by the more academically minded faculty.
The pace seemed slow at the beginning as we met several of the characters. No page-turners in the first half, but it picks up once the murder was committed and the investigation begins.
The main characters were well developed, and Kaye did a good job of making the reader like the characters.
By biggest hang-up with the book is the author’s attempt to convey Emma’s southern accent. Throughout the book she uses “ah’m” for I’m and “ah”for I. The first few mentions of this pronunciation were fine, but it became a little distracting as the book progressed. The best use of accent is to use the accent in in the first few lines of dialog, then drop it completely. The reader will “read” the accent into the character’s voice for the rest of the story on his or her own. I’m not sure why her editor did not catch this.
At one point the author inserts herself into the story when she tells the reader “she will use her English teacher status to make up her own words” after using the word dentier. I realize it’s an effort at humor, but for me it was a little distracting, jarring the reader away from the story line. Again, how this made it past her editor is beyond me.
I have not found other works by Kaye, so I am assuming that this is her first book. If that is the case, I can see the foundation for a great storyteller. I look forward to reading more of her work and watching her grow as an author.
This book will resonate well with Janet Evanovich readers, as Kaye does a good job at inserting humor into her story. In fact, I think she must be a fan of Evanovich, giving a nod to the bestselling author by naming one of her characters Adam Evanovich.
There’s no hard edge or blood and guts in this story. It undoubtedly fits well within the cozy genre. Many chick lit fans will also find Death by Diploma entertaining, while some male readers may find it a little too fluffy.
I give Death by Diploma three out of five stars.
The author of this book provided a copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.