Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Death of a Hoosier Schoolmaster: Review

Death of a Hoosier Schoolmaster (2002) by Marlis Day is one of those books that I picked up because of my affinity for academic mysteries. This one is full of academic connections. The protagonist of the Day series is Margo Brown, a modern day Indiana schoolteacher who manages to get involved in mysteries in the Midwest the way Jessica Fletcher does in Cabot Cove. This particular installment finds Margo researching the murder of Gus Steiner 55 years ago. Steiner was also a Hoosier teacher who was once the owner of the Margo's property.

The mystery comes to her attention when she discovers an old gun buried in her garden plot. She learns about Steiner--a man who was a stern disciplinarian and who no one in the community seemed to have mourned once he was dead. There was a brief trial that saw the man's sons accused and acquitted of the deed and no follow-up afterward to find the actual culprit. 

What begins as curiosity about the history behind her property soon turns into a full-fledged investigation, but Margo discovers that few people with memories long enough to reach back 55 years really want to talk about the incident. The tidbits she gleans make her even more curious and the reluctance of the townspeople to dig up the past takes a darker turn. Somebody really doesn't want the truth to come out and may be willing to create mayhem to keep their family secrets buried in the past where they belong.

******Possible Spoiler/s Ahead*******

This is truly a cozy mystery. No blood. No gore. No explicit violence. The only murder is long in the past and while Margo does fall into a bit of danger, there really isn't a sense that her life is at risk. The motive for the murder isn't too hard to guess, but there is a bit of a twist at the end to add interest. Not really a true whodunnit murder mystery, but a charming read and especially interesting for those, like me, who are from Southern Indiana. Day reflects small town Indiana accurately and provides witty dialogue in her comfortably cozy mystery. ★★

[Finished on 4/10/18]

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