Saturday, June 24, 2017

Publish & Perish: Review

Publish & Perish (1997) is the first book in Sally Wright's series starring Ben Reese. Reese is a World War II veteran, former intelligence officer, and currently works as an archivist at a small private Ohio college. The time period is 1960. We first meet Reese at two o'clock in the morning. He is on a research trip in England when his friend Richard West, current chair of the English Department, calls him and is quite upset. He tells Reese that he has "uncovered an act of treachery which demands some form of retribution." Before he can explain further, someone comes to his office door and he says, "The culprit has just put in an appearance and I'll have to call you tomorrow." Culprit would seem to be prophetic, for the next message Reese gets from the States is a telegram informing him that West has died from an apparent heart attack.

Reese, who is West's executor, heads home for his friend's funeral and to take care of the estate. He also can't resist asking questions about his friend's final hours. He soon finds that West's conservative views and adherence to old-fashioned values (like honesty...) pitted him against someone who would do anything to prevent the secret lies of the past from being exposed in the present. Professional jealousy and academic integrity lie at the heart of the matter and Ben's life will be in danger as well once he discovers the reasons why West had to die.

A decent academic mystery and a fair start to a new series--and, from what I can tell, a fair debut novel of any sort. Ben Reese is an interesting character with a background that would be worth fleshing out. The mystery was fairly obvious (suspects aren't exactly thick on the ground), so hopefully future installments in the series will make improvements in this area. [Side-note, I was disappointed to find that future installments are not necessarily academically-tied.] A quick and entertaining read for those who like their mysteries with an academic flavor (as do I). ★★

Fulfills the "Set at Work" category on the Reporter's Challenge.

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