Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final Exam by Maggie Barbieri (ARC)

Final Exam (A Murder 101 Mystery) by Maggie Barbieri

St. Thomas, the college north of New York where Alison Bergeron teaches, has had its share of scandals involving its students, staff, and Alison herself, so when a Resident Director goes missing they keep it quiet by tapping Alison as a replacement. A stay in the dorms is like hard time and she will do anything to avoid it. Her way out: Find the reluctant resident and drag him back. Luckily, she doesn’t have to look further than the drugs he’s hidden to get her boyfriend Detective Bobby Crawford on the case.

Alison Bergeron is hoping that she can get through the rest of the school year without becoming involved in another murder case (and hopefully get tenure if she can leave all the "trouble" behind). The Dean will do anything to keep Alison's nose clean. When Wayne, the Resident Director of the boys dorm, goes missing the Dean makes Alison fill the position. Until either Wayne returns or the semester ends. She knows this is going to be a very long 5 weeks and struggles to make the most of it. While her boyfriend, Detective Bobby Crawford helps her move in, an exploding toilet reveals a packet of hidden heroin. Does the packet have anything to do with Wayne and his disappearance? Since Bobby is a homicide detective, he turns over the investigation to narcotics, while at the same time promising Alison he'll do whatever he can - off the record - to help her figure out what is going on.

Alison is bound and determined to find out what happened to Wayne as fast as she can so that she can get out of the dorms and back home where she belongs. While doing some undercover work, she finds that Wayne's mother has an uncanny resemblance to Sister Mary. Are they related? Does Sister Mary have something to do with Wayne's disappearance? And could she possibly be hiding him in the convent??? It appears that Wayne may have been set up with the drugs, until a very large stash of marijuana is found in the floor of his room. Now Alsion understand why all the kids were asking where he was and letting her know how "cool" he is. There is one student who misses Wayne the most, Amanda. Amanda professes to be in love with Wayne, while at the same time being engaged to someone else. Could this be the reason for Wayne's vanishing act???

Meanwhile, Alison has an unwanted house guest. Without giving away any surprising story lines ~ let's just say that Alison has a very small bit inside her that is happy she's having to stay in the dorm. How can she get this person out of her house? And more importantly how can she save the relationship before they kill each other? And will a shocking revelation be the answer to every one's prayers?

This is definitely my favorite book in the series. The action moves along quickly while Alison seems to get herself into one bind after another. While she ever learn? I hope not, because that is what makes her so lovable. The characters are likable and believable, the romance sweet with enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing right up until the last 20 pages. And with an ending that will hopefully ring true.

Release date: December 8th.

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