Ballantine, Nov 2004, 22.95, 244 pp.
When Philly Prep teacher Amanda Pepper ducks out of the headmaster's speech in the auditorium she finds a man lying comatose on the bottom of the marble stairs. He dies en route to the hospital; Amanda thinks he was murdered because he fell backwards and has an injury to his cheek. She learns that the victim, Tomas Severin, wanted to hire her services as a private detective to investigate threatening phone calls he was getting.
Later, Amanda finds a cup of tea in her office that she assumes was Tomas' drink. She gives it to the police to see if there was anything in it. It turns out that somebody put a date rape drug in the tea. Not too much later, Amanda and her fiancée are hired by the social secretary to Tomas's mother Ingrid to find out whether her employer's fiancée who is forty-six years younger than his future bride had something to do with the homicide. Amanda feels needs to solve the case fast because Tomas's son Zach, Amanda's favorite student, confesses to killing his father. Amanda wants to clear Zach by finding out how Tomas really died because she doesn't believe her pupil committed patricide.
TILL THE END OF TOM is a very entertaining academic mystery due in large part to the heroine's trying to work two jobs and plan her wedding. This leads to some very numerous scenes and will have any reader who planned their own wedding chuckling out loud. Gillian Roberts is a talented writer whose clever plotting and excellent characterizations make TILL THE END OF TOM a very erudite mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner