Five Star, Jun 2004, 25.95, 240 pp.
In Pecan City, Texas, Hartley-Gorman College Dean Dr. Gwendolyn Partridge asks (in the form of a command) English Department Chair Dr. Carl Burns to investigate the stealing of some valuable toy soldiers along with their container. Carl, who has solved mysteries before, would prefer to say no, but does not dare effuse his superior.
Before Carl even receives a list of suspects from Dr. Partridge, Police Chief Boss Napier visits him to tell him to back off as the stolen soldiers are linked to a homicide. Someone killed former professor Matthew Hart leaving a toy soldier by the corpse. Partridge knows that Carl needs to stay as far away from the official inquiry as possible, but still gives him the list to begin his interrogation.
DEAD SOLDIERS is an entertaining academic mystery that will hook readers from the moment Dr. P forces Carl to find her purloined soldiers. Though why Carl feels he had to follow up after the Boss man told him to back off is a mystery unto itself (he has tenure), the link between the miniature and the homicide is intriguing. The support cast is a delight, but Carl is the MVP of this solid amateur sleuth tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner