Friday, May 25, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Murdering Americans by
A Robert Amiss Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-413-9 (1590584139)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-413-2 (9781590584132)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Academia (n.): a profession filled with bad food, knee-jerk liberalism, and murder...

Being a member of the House of Lords and Mistress of St Martha’s College in Cambridge might seem enough to keep anyone busy, but Baroness (Jack) Troutbeck likes new challenges. When a combination of weddings, work, and spookery deprives her of five of her closest allies, she leaps at an invitation to become a Distinguished Visiting Professor on an American campus.

With her head full of romantic fantasies inspired by 1950s Hollywood, and accompanied by Horace, her loquacious and disconcerting parrot, this intellectually-rigorous right-winger sets off from England blissfully unaware that academia in the United States is dominated by knee-jerk liberalism, contempt for Western civilization, and the institutionalisation of a form of insane political-correctness.

Will the bonne viveuse Baroness Troutbeck be able to cope with the culinary and vinous desert that is New Paddington, ? Can this insensitive and tactless human battering-ram defeat the thought-police who run Freeman State University like a gulag? Does she believe the late Provost was murdered? If so, what should she do about it? And will she manage to persuade Robert Amiss—who describes himself bitterly as Watson to her Holmes and Goodwin to her Nero Wolfe—to abandon his honeymoon and fly to her side?

Review: Murdering Americans is the politically incorrect title of the 11th mystery in the Robert Amiss (and "Jack" Troutbeck) series by Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Those who attended college in the fifties no doubt have vivid memories of their experiences being a combination of academic hard work and youthful pleasure. From the sixties to the present day, we have watched our children and grandchildren attend the colleges of their choice. Reading this fictionalized story escorts the reader into a new reality.

Murdering Americans takes place in a solidly built, nice looking college in the abandoned steel town of New Paddington, Indiana. The college, Freeman State University, has deteriorated over the years from the principles on which it was founded, that is the teachings of math, science, and history, freedom of speech, diversity of thought and integration, and so on. Political Correctness (with a capital "PC") has become their crushing ideology. The only competition permitted by this college is who is the greater victim.

Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck, though quite busy being a member of the House of Lords and the Mistress of St. Martha’s College in Cambridge, is always eager to face a new challenge should one present itself. To her surprise and delight she has been invited to America as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. She readily accepts, leaves London and flies off to America, and on to Freeman State University. The Baroness imagined the American colleges to be as she had viewed them in the movies of the fifties. What a shock to find them bastions of the liberal elite who have contempt for all things Western and who preside over not an institute of higher learning but one of political correctness. To some, no doubt, they are one and the same.

Jack is a brilliant, witty, and rather nice lady who is kind to animals. But she is a complainer when things don't quite go her way. Her plane was late because someone had to check Horace, her parrot, to make sure he was not carrying bird flu, and that he was not a terrorist because of some of the language he was using. Her chauffeur, Betsy, drove on the wrong side of the road. After a fourteen-hour trip, she wanted a little “pick-me-up” from a bar, any bar. But it was Sunday and there no bars open, even in the hotel. Her accommodations were unsatisfactory as they overlooked an active train track. Then there's the tasteless American food. She enticed the hotel’s chef and his wife to prepare food just for her, with, of course, the right wine. And all this on her first day in the US. On Monday she started in on the academic studies provided for the students. She found that this college did not offer the standard courses in literature and science but instead an array of programs in political correctness. Because Christian Americans are at the root of the world's problems, students need only to study the backgrounds and cultures of blacks, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, and other oppressed minorities to understand why all countries in the world hate America.

During her stay, the Baroness is involved in four murders of which she has been inconveniently accused. She immediately calls for her friend in need, Robert Amiss, who flies to her side to help her solve the crimes.

Baroness Jack is a delightful character and with Robert at her side they make a perfect duo in this entertaining and witty book. At the end of Murdering Americans they not only solve the mystery of the murders, but also extract a promise from the founder of the University to turn it around and once again make it into a truly credible college.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Murdering Americans and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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