Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publish & Perish
Ben Reese Mysteries, No 1
Sally S.Wright

1999/ ISBN 1576730670
Mystery / Academic / Ohio / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts


First Sentence: It was two in the morning in Oxfordshire, England, when the call came through from America that woke Clarence Watson, the porter at Deniston Hall.

WWII Army commando and intelligence officer veteran, Ben Reese is a widower and archivist at a small public college in Ohio. While visiting England, his friend, Richard West, head of the English Department, does of a heart attack. Or did he? After a second death, a robbery and an attempt on his own life, Ben needs to find out who has a secret worth killing for.

Ms. Wright’s first book includes a cast of characters, which I liked, and a small portent, not so much. Her writing is filled with wonderful descriptions which both provide the larger sense of place and the small details provide information on the role of an archivist and glimpses into the personalities of the characters. Her observation as to how idiosyncratic habits provide an insight and details of a person’s character leads to interesting introspection for the reader.

It is refreshing to have a mystery with an academic setting where the protagonist is actually qualified to investigate a murder. Wright is very good at providing the backstory and complexity for each character, such as the contrast between the face the victim presents to most of the world yet how he really felt and was inside. On the downside is that Ben occasionally seems arrogant and the sheriff, Chester, whom I like as he is described as someone to whom the truth and facts are important, appears stereotypically less educated than the academics.

There is a wonderful quality to Ms. Wright’s writing. It is layered, includes passages which caused me to stop and think, and includes wonderful, subtle humor through both the author’s voice and in the actual dialogue. She does get just a bit, subtly preachy at times, but not in an annoying way and the occasions are brief.

There was a bit of a problem for me with the plot in that a set up to a major scene was too obvious and the final scene was too long and felt as though it had lost its way. However, taken against the strengths of the book, the strengths win and I’m anxious to read another in this series.

Reviewer's Note: More on Sally S Wright
Reviewed 2011
© 2011