Donn Taylor's debut cozy, Rhapsody in Red, is a mystery "to die for" (please excuse the cliche). Preston Barclay, history professor, is an engaging character with all too human traits and a daily life accentuated with unexpected musical hallucinations. The curious combination tickled this reader's funny bone, keeping me entertained and flipping the pages. Taylor's myriad skills as a writer were front and center along with his amazing ability to spin a story. I didn't know "who done it" until the murder was revealed by the professor himself. Also enjoyable was the interaction between the protagonist and professor Mara Thorn, who played a reluctant Dr. Watson to Barclay's Holmes.Overall, an expertly woven yarn that delights on every page. Don't miss it! Rhapsody in Red is delicious.
What happens when a widowed history professor and a man-shy religious studies professor walk into a colleague's office and find her dead? You will discover a true mystery when you read Donn Taylor's new book, Rhapsody in Red. Preston Barclay has built a reclusive life for himself. His simple days of teaching history, going home quietly, and listening to the musical hallucinations in his head end the moment Mara Thorn walks into his office seeking help. They discover the body of a fellow teacher and suddenly find themselves the prime in her murder. Mara and Preston bend a few rules and start their own investigation into the murder. Mara's lack of trust for men and Preston's distancing from women creates a tension that, in itself, complicates their search. The cast of characters all seem to have unusual connections with the dead professor and as Mara and Preston uncover the mysteries, it pushes them further from a solution.Donn Taylor wrote an intriguing mystery. His skill with the whodunit kept me going back and forth with my own thoughts on who I thought it was. The music Preston's mind assigned to each of the people and situations he faced created a most interesting backdrop in the book. I could almost hear the background music whenever the Dean entered a page. This book is a fun read and a good mystery. I look forward to reading more of Donn's books.
History professor, Preston Barkley is minding his own business when fellow Professor Mara Thorn asks for his help in confronting a colleague, Laila Stone. Press is not at all eager to help Mara, but reluctantly agrees. He and Mara make the trek to Lailas office, only to discover shed been murdered. This could be the end of the story, a simple newspaper headline, Two Professors Find Murdered Colleague. Fortunately for the reader, author Donn Taylor brings onto the stage Clyde Staggart, the one man Press hoped never to see again. Earlier in life and while serving in the military, Press had reported Staggarts nefarious activities. Suffice it to say, Staggart does not consider Press a long lost friend and as the local homicide captain, Staggart has the perfect opportunity to retaliate by setting Press up as the fall guy for the murder. To keep out of jail, Press and Mara form an unlikely pact to ferret out the real killer, beginning with a list of fellow professors who might have cause to end Lailas life. Rhapsody in Red is based on a basic mystery plot, and before reading it, you could easily chalk it up as another run of the mill mystery. But the author doesnt let that thought enter your head as you read. His main character is so well defined, well-written, and fleshed out that you have to read every page just because youre enjoying the character. Press is a professor through and through. He has a delightful sense of humor and an eccentric quirk that makes him even more memorable. Yes, he has musical hallucinations, haunting melodies play in a variety of instrumentations in his head, and the music defines the situation hes in. Rhapsody in Red isn't a race through, fast moving mystery that the reader flips pages to find out what happens to the protagonist. True, the mystery is there and Press solves it, but this novel is character driven with a character that is so compelling and fun to journey with that you won't stop reading until the book ends.
Donn Taylor demonstrates a unique voice among the writers of Christian mysteries. He writes in the first person (and does it well) and has created an engaging, quirky, likable protagonist in Professor Preston Barclay. The puns are sometimes a bit too cutesy, and the dialogue a little too erudite and filled with insider literary references, but the action moves along and the ending--in distinction to many such novels--is unexpected and satisfying. The religious references are understated but clear. They don't hit the reader over the head, nor are they saccharin-sweet, but the message gets through.
Donn Taylor's delightful sense of humor flows onto the pages of Rhapsody in Red. He's taken one reclusive professor, coerced him into playing mediator between two fellow educators, and then accused him of murdering one of them. Add to that a philharmonic orchestra performing in this professor's head. Then top it all off with a few masterful plot twists, and you've got one of the most memorable characters we've seen this year. I give it a high recommendation.