Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bleeding Maize & Blue: Review

Bleeding Maize & Blue is the third in Susan Holtzer's Anneke Haagen mystery series. In the opener, Something to Kill For (which I read in 2012--click title for review) Anneke, a local computer consultant, is involved in a murder amongst the antiquing crowd and she winds up romantically entangled with Lieutenant Karl Genesko, a handsome ex-football player turned police detective. Now, Anneke and Karl are sharing their life and a home and are gearing up to share the spotlight at the University of Michigan's President's Weekend. The festivities include a President's reception, a football game, and a tribute the All-American, three-time Superbowl winner, #54 of the Wolverine football team, U.M. alumnus--Karl "The Pass" Genesko. Scheduled for half-time of the big game is the retirement of Genesko's jersey.

But before the weekend can get underway, the Michigan Daily, independent student newspaper, breaks a story that may be the makings of reporter Zoe Kaplan....and the undoing of the football powerhouse. Kaplan has learned of an impending investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) into possible recruitment violations by Michigan alumni. In response to the disastrous headlines the various campus committees rally round in meetings at the stadium and try to figure out how to best weather this storm when they see the body of the NCAA investigator Alvin Greenaway tumble over the railing and onto the end zone turf. Greenaway has been stabbed to death with a Michigan University flag pole.

Anneke doesn't mean to get involved in another murder investigation--but she is at the stadium waiting for Karl to get out of a meeting when Greenaway's murder is discovered. Zoe is on hand as well, lurking about with hopes of interviewing Karl...or anyone who might have a further scoop for her. And what a scoop she gets! Right on the spot for the beginnings of a murder investigation. Anneke takes a liking to the driven young reporter and she--along with Detroit News has-been reporter, Charlie Cassovoy, and Daily Michigan staff alumnus, Richard Killian--helps Zoe brainstorm on suspects, means, and motive. All clues lead them through a tangle of secrets, lies, and shady dealings, but someone's hands must be dirtier than the others. Zoe adds up the score and Anneke provides the computer skills to decode the killer's secret playbook--setting Karl up to tackle the murderer. Literally--in a stupendous play on third yard line.

 As I mentioned in my review of the first novel, I really like the characters in Holtzer's series. They are given good back-stories and are authentic and believable. The romance between Anneke and Karl is handled deftly and it doesn't overwhelm the cozy mystery. Zoe is a particularly likeable new character--unfortunately given her position with the student-run newspaper, I don't anticipate seeing much more (if any) of her in future installments. That's really too bad, because I'd like to get to know her better. I also enjoyed the set-up for the murder. I'm no football fan, but the use of football and the hoopla surrounding it at Michigan as a backdrop works very well and makes for an interesting story. It's possible that the dramatic capture at the end could be seen as a bit over-the-top, but given the frenzy that football fanatics can get themselves into....I think it works. Well-plotted and fun to read. Recommended for cozy and football fans alike--as well as those with ties to the University of Michigan. ★★


fredamans said...

I like that this mystery is sports theme, that appeals to me. Great review!

Robin M said...

Great review! Adding it to my wishlist!