Monday, January 29, 2007

The Princeton Impostor - Ann Waldron

The Princeton Impostor
Death is Academic
Ann Waldron
Berkley Prime Crime


Professor McLeod Dulaney is enjoying this semester teaching at Princeton. This term, she’s teaching a nonfiction writing class, currently focusing on interviewing and writing about individuals. During class, she’s shocked when the police arrive and ask student Greg Pierre to leave with them. Greg is a quiet student, but it’s become clear that he’s a very talented writer. Once class is over, McLeod demands an explanation. What she hears is stunning.

It seems that Greg Pierre doesn’t exist. The best student in her class is really Bob Billings, and he’s wanted in Wyoming for violating his parole. His offense is a shocker, too: possession to sell crystal meth. Greg/Bob claims he’s innocent; that he was framed. Of course, so do most people who are arrested. But he pled guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence. As Bob Billings, he says he was accepted to Princeton, but wrote them a letter, requesting deferment to care for his dying mother. Which was creative, but another lie. McLeod is the only person in his corner. But that position becomes even more perilous when the student who blew the whistle on the imposter is found dead. Who would have a better motive? McLeod determines to answer that question.

This is the latest in a series, but the first I’ve read. I had no trouble at all jumping in at this point. While I, personally, found McLeod’s instant belief in the innocence of Greg/Bob naïve, it’s a necessary plot point, and seems to fit her character. The academic setting, as anyone who has been there will tell you, is always fraught with intrigue and backstabbing, though usually of the political variety. Given faculty and the student body, plus ancillary characters, there are plenty of suspects, making this an interesting mystery. McLeod is the kind of teacher everyone wants: she honestly cares about her students and their futures. That makes for a very appealing character.

Rating: 7
January 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21362-9 (paperback)


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