Saturday, April 04, 2015

Amanda Cross. A Trap for Fools (1989)

Amanda Cross. A Trap for Fools (1989) Canfield Adams, a much-hated professor of Islamic Studies at “the University”, is found dead on the pavement below his office window. He was pushed, it seems, and Kate Fansler is given the job of finding the killer. After much pleasant and occasionally probing conversation, she discovers shadowy donors compromised one of her colleagues, and another colleague’s need for cash led to blackmail. Adams found out, so he had to die. Tangles of academic politics obscure the path and impede progress, but Kate “rearranges the narrative” and arrives at the truth, not by logic and careful analysis, but with intuition and imaginative insights. This is the only weakness of this series, but the depiction of academic life, of friendships, of the life of the mind, of love, and characters we care about more than make up for it.
     Every novel is spiced up with parody and satire of the long-since forgotten intellectual and political buzz of the time. I think Carolyn Heilbrun, the person behind the mask of Amanda Cross, wanted to say things that needed to be said about the socio-politics of her time. She succeeds. That’s another reason I like to read these books. If you want tightly plotted procedurals, they are not for you. But if you want immersion in a pleasant world in which intellect and  feelings are given equal value, along with a bit of a puzzle to keep the story moving, then you will like them. ***

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