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Death In A Tenured Position (A Kate Fansler Mystery #6)

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  554 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
When Janet Mandelbaum is made the first woman professor at Harvard's English Department, the men are not happy. They are unhappier still when her tea is spiked and she is found drunk on the floor of the women's room. With a little time, Janet's dear friend and colleague Kate Fansler could track down the culprit, but time is running out....
Mass Market Paperback, 165 pages
Published June 12th 1986 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Julie Ehlers
Talking, talking, talking. So much talking. So many characters saying so many things as wordily as humanly possible. Don't get me wrong, they were usually talking about interesting things, and I don't mind a lot of talking in novels in general. But mystery novels should have more action than talking, and this one was about 90 percent talking, 10 percent action. This is the fourth Amanda Cross mystery I've read but, I believe, the earliest one I've read in terms of when she wrote them. Now I'm wo ...more
Seana
Aug 28, 2015 Seana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read all the Amanda Cross mysteries a long time ago. I really enjoyed them, particularly for whatever author or issue she was examining in the course of the mystery. I seem to have run into a fair amount of people who find them wanting in some way, but I didn't. I also really like the nonfiction she wrote under her real name, Carolyn Heilbrun.
Ben Loory
Jun 23, 2016 Ben Loory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. Smart, literate, full of feeling, and written at a high level of polish. The actual mystery isn't much of a mystery. But, whatever, we carry on.
Cassandra
Jan 29, 2014 Cassandra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-mystery
I am not certain what I think about this. I did not enjoy it very much.

I liked the points of view on feminism, from Janet who thinks it is all nonsense and doesn't believe sexism exists, to the women's separatist commune, to Moon whom if we met him now would seem rather sexist (although if he continued to develop he might have become a respectable feminist ally), to Kate herself who looks at all these shades thoughtfully and considers them in their contexts.

But I thought the mystery itself (view
...more
Rdonn
Mar 23, 2010 Rdonn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of the three Amanda Cross books I've been given to read. I liked this one the least, though I still enjoyed reading it. I think another thing that I enjoy about her books are the unusual, eccentric characters one meets. In this book Harvard is almost the villain! Lots of women's issues in it.
Lee
This mystery really captured realities about universities and how faculty behave and function together with an historical period (when women were breaking into the professorate in Ivy League Universities in the 1970's).
Stuart
I thought the book was great. While short, it was interesting and well-written all the way through. It is the first book by Amanda Cross that I have read, having been "assigned" in a Book Group, but it won’t be the last. It was great to find an author I had not heard of previously, and to read a book with well-written sentences and paragraphs, with no wondering about who was speaking or what period was being discussed. While there were plenty of literary references, they were not of the confusin ...more
Sarah
Oct 29, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as part of a book group. We were charged with reading something fictional "about academia," and in fairness, the conversation we had as a result of reading the novel was quite strong, especially in considering how the role of women in academia has changed (or not changed) in the intervening 40 years between when the book is set and now. We also laughed a lot, too, because it's really a dreadfully, awfully written book.

Every single character is a type. The protagonist, Kate, is a
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Amanda Cross is the pen name of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, an English literature professor who taught at Columbia from the Sixties to the Nineties. "Death in a Tenured Position" is a part of a 14-book series featuring Kate Fansler, an English literature professor from an established New York university.

Kate is asked to investigate the strange case of Janet Mandelbaum, the first female literature professor in the English department at Harvard, who was found drunk and asleep in a bathtub along anothe
...more
Gregory
Jul 15, 2012 Gregory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, academia
From http://weeksnotice.blogspot.com/2012/...

I knew nothing about Amanda Cross' Death in a Tenured Position except that it was a murder mystery set in academia with a really lurid title. I did not know, for example, that it served as a statement against the sexism and homophobia that characterized Harvard (the book was published in 1981 and takes place in 1979). I also did not know that Amanda Cross was a psuedonym for Carolyn Heilbrun, who was a prominent professor of English at Columbia and wr
...more
Tom Dye
Sep 27, 2011 Tom Dye rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Who done it?

If you can manage to read past about chapter eight of this leisurely paced Kate Fansler crime novel, you will probably be able to guess the answer to the aforementioned question. About chapter eight is where the story picks up the pace too, for about a chapter and a half. The book has an unlucky 13 Chapters, not by accident I suspect, since there is also a prologue and an epilogue that are not numbered.

Did I like this book?

I can answer that question with about as much suspense as De
...more
Jessica
Aug 13, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about Amanda Cross when I was reading an old review of one of my all-time favorite mysteries, "Death of a Harvard Freshman" by Victoria Silver. The reviewer compared Silver's intellectual mystery style to the earlier writings of Cross while also noting their link to Harvard.
With an Amanda Cross book, the character and the literary references are more intriguing, and more important, than the mystery.
I post this particular novel here because it was the first I read and the first
...more
William
May 16, 2009 William rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
the ending is lame. not literarily speaking, in terms of hte writing... it was a bad end to a mystery. but then again, the mystery thing isn't what's necessarily important here i don't think. something i liked about it is that it is the victim whose character developes throughout the story. the protagonist is kind of flat. and frankly neither likable nor unlikable. and characters ought to be either one. (though i'll add that i did not like her). if you're interested in feminism and the movement ...more
Joel
Aug 14, 2015 Joel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dana Stabenow
Reminded me of Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night and Sarah Caudwell's Thus Was Adonis Murdered, although both are much better writers than Cross, and Caudwell is much, much funnier. Some acute observations in this book, though, like

She had often noticed that when people with large libraries fell into trouble, the fact that the books had not risen en masse to help them always seemed to give those without books comfort.

and some nice dialogue, like

“If you get everything wrong, how can you be a reporte
...more
Writerlibrarian
Set in late 70's, very early 80's this is more an atmospheric mystery than a whodunnit mystery. Kate Fansler comes to the rescue of the first tenured English Literature woman professor at Havard when she finds herself involve in a scandal. Was she set up? Professor Mandelbaum can't really defend herself after she is found dead in the men's bathroom. Who did it? And why? is less interesting than the politics and shenanigans behind the scenes at a prestigious university once the private playing gr ...more
Surreysmum
May 24, 2010 Surreysmum rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 1982
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter
Jul 23, 2007 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: campus novels, esp. mystery lovers
Interesting, but not a good 'mystery', in that the sharp, witty, highly literary dialogue takes precedence over plotting. Worth reading for that, I suppose. Characters are interestingly eccentric; red herrings are few - there are about 3 credible suspects, but all fairly obvious, and under-motivated to pop off the emotionally stunted, collegially isolated victim. (Can you guess that I thought the denouement was a cop-out?)
Dated (I assume!) in its references to the early-80s entrenched chauvinism
...more
Marti
Feb 03, 2010 Marti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine is waiting for the three Kate Fansler novels which I acquired at a book sale, and have now totally read. This one seemed a little more interesting than the other two--better plotted. This time she is persuaded to go to Harvard for a term to help figure out who murdered the first female professor to hold a chair of literature. Her husband, Reed Amherst, is being a police consultant in Africa, so there is no problem with what to do with him. There are some interesting characters-- ...more
D-day
Aug 11, 2011 D-day rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100-myst-list
Not really much of a mystery story, more of a political screed about the lack of female professors in Ivy League Universities in the late 1970's, when the book was written. I'm not saying that it wasn't a legitimate issue, just that I didn't really enjoy reading about it. It didn't help the novel that all the characters, including the 'hero' Kate Fansler, were pretty unsympathetic; you know the kind: never left the Washington/New York/Boston corridor, never had a job outside academia or governme ...more
Donna
Feb 21, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My first Amanda Cross and I found it most enjoyable. As usual I will have to track down the first five books in the series. I enjoyed the academic setting.

This book is set in 1979. Although I was in the work force at this time, being "just a secretary" allowed me to write off chauvinist behavior as a privilege of rank not gender. It's painful to see how it worked at the top.

Read for Silver Vintage Mystery Challenge -- academic setting.

Janet
Sep 10, 2008 Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I adore Carolyn Heilbrun, so I thought I'd love this mystery under her pseudonym. This one drags through every preposterous murder scenario it's possible for the human mind to invent, and then settles on the least interesting.

Maybe I blame it for reminding me how dreary sexism was in the 70s -- or how little editing used to be employed. Either way, I'll try reading at least one more Amanda Cross (hopefully, one with a more straightforward murder) before I give up.
Mary
Aug 11, 2009 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
And some people in our book club didn't like Sayers' "Gaudy Night"! I found this very difficult to finish. Very wordy. Kind of preachy about the women's lib issues (quite boring--written in 1981, but living in a slightly earlier time) I simply could not warm up to any of the characters, and didn't even care if the 'victim' had been murdered or not! Not much to like here...
Kel
May 05, 2009 Kel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Guillermo
Es una novela policial bastante densa en el buen sentido. Nada de relleno de ningún tipo. Mucho de académicos y feministas, como que transcurre en Harvard y muere una profesora que ha sido de las primeras en tener cátedra. No es un tema que me llegue tanto pero está bien llevado.
Megan
Jun 18, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my book group's read for June, and it is a fun academic mystery written by feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun under a pseudonym. It's a neat look at gender politics in the academic world of the '70s.
MaryJac Rauh
This book is part of a Let's Talk" series Oklahoma Libraries. Until the lecture and discussion after reading it, I was not impressed. However, once I knew something of the author, the story was more interesting. I would recommend the book with the suggestion to find out about the author first.
Galen Johnson
Kate Fansler travels to Harvard for a semester to investigate the harassment, then death, of the first tenured female professor in the English Department.

Fantastic; intelligent, feminist, biting, and fun to read. Highly recommended mystery for the picky reader.
Diane
Oct 21, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mature-reads
I like this title of the series best of what I've read so far, because the characters are marginally different from each other and although certainly not a suspenseful book, the ending was partially a surprise.
Helen
Mar 31, 2011 Helen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
stinko, pretentious, total cop-out
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1968686
A psuedonym of Carolyn G. Heilbrun.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Amanda Cross...

Other Books in the Series

A Kate Fansler Mystery (1 - 10 of 14 books)
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  • The James Joyce Murder (A Kate Fansler Mystery #2)
  • Poetic Justice (A Kate Fansler Mystery #3)
  • The Theban Mysteries (A Kate Fansler Mystery #4)
  • The Question of Max (A Kate Fansler Mystery #5)
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