Professor Preston Barclay teaches history at a small Midwestern university. His friends call him Press, but he has few of those. Most faculty shun him as he is not afraid to say what he thinks and stand up for what he feels is right. He is a widower in his mid-fifties with a college age daughter. His wife died about three years ago and he has stopped going to church due to his overwhelming grief, which he still experiences sometimes more deeply than others. He hasnt lost his faith, but he isnt practicing it either. He becomes involved in a murder investigation when a fellow colleague, Mara Thorn, asks for his help confronting another teacher. They go to confront this teacher and find her murdered.
Press and Mara soon find themselves among the suspects and begin their own investigation to find the murderer. The captain in charge of the investigation is someone from Prestons past and has a personal score to settle with Press, so he finds any and every excuse to keep Press as the prime suspect. As Press and Mara continue to ask questions, more and more threats are made against them. Then, they are on the run for their very lives. Mara is in her mid-thirties with an aversion to being touched and is very much in control of herself. She was raised in a very strict religious environment that claimed to be Christian, but in truth didnt practice what the Bible says, which in turn has soured her on Christianity. She says she is now a Wiccan, but will these beliefs sustain her when she is on the run?
This is an excellent mystery filled with witty dialogue, sarcastic wit; some laugh out loud moments for readers as well as some really awful puns! I loved it and hope there are many more Professor Barclay novels that come from the mind and pen of Donn Taylor. I liked seeing the coming out of the fog of grief to return to an active faith-based life, his fight against political correctness when that violates his religious freedoms and the different songs that play through his mind at various times. I am a big mystery fan and am so excited Ive found a new author with a great talent for this genre. This one is definitely a book readers will want to buy for their collection. Great job Donn!!
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.