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The Theban Mysteries (A Kate Fansler Mystery #4)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  338 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
For a century, wealthy New York girls have been trained for the rigors of upper class life at the Theban, an exclusive private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Kate Fansler is lured back to her alma mater to teach a seminar on Antigone. But a hostile note addressed to Kate, the uniform mistrustfulness of her six, bright students, and the Dobermans that patrol th ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Fawcett (first published January 1st 1971)
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Rin Simpson
Feb 14, 2012 Rin Simpson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(First reviewed at www.nowiamthirty.journoblog.net 7 February 2011)

I don’t know who first warned society not to judge a book by its cover, but he was right. The Theban Mysteries contains in its title the word “mystery”, bears the logo of Virago Crime, and pegs the plot synopsis in the blurb on “a dead body in the old school building”.

But this isn’t what I’d call a murder mystery. In fact, I’m still trying to decide how to classify a book which is equal parts feminism, social commentary, Greek dr
...more
Syd
May 09, 2013 Syd rated it really liked it
If you have not read a Kate Fansler novel before, I recommend it to anyonewho enjoys their mystery novels with the mystery as only half of the focus of the story. Miss Fansler as a detective also has the distinction of being a feminist sleuth written in an era of budding feminism. Another thing to note is that both Heilbrun and Fansler were/are literature professors, and often but not always in the novels, the discussion of one of the greats or an analysis of a work are core to its telling.
This
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Joan
May 20, 2017 Joan rated it really liked it
This literary mystery by Amanda Cross takes Kate Fansler back to her alma mater, The Theban, an exclusive girls' school in New York, to teach a seminar on Antigone.

Of course, there is a mystery to solve--a student's mother who is supposedly frightened to death by the school's two night guards--a pair of dogs.

Quirky characters, a curmudgeonly custodian, and Kate herself liven this tale of ancient tragedies, and the human foibles which have not changed since the days of Socrates.
Cassandra
Dec 18, 2013 Cassandra rated it liked it
Shelves: genre-mystery
I enjoyed her first three novels, but I think Cross starts to really hit her stride with this one. As with some of the others, the actual 'mystery' doesn't occur until the novel is almost half over, so I would not recommend it to people who do not enjoy setting and character and lengthy conversations about the cultural relevance of Sophocles _Antigone_ to young people during the Vietnam War. For myself, I found it interesting, perhaps a little more as a cultural document than a novel; I like tha ...more
gwen g
May 15, 2011 gwen g rated it liked it
Interesting little mystery about a teacher-turned-detective who goes back to lead a seminar on Antigone at her old New York prep school, sort of in the Jessica Fletcher tradition but with a bit more edge. The mystery was a little flat, and I didn't even remotely care whodunit, but I liked the droll, self-aware protagonist.

The discussion of the Vietnam War in the context of Antigone was also nicely drawn, and helped me gain a bit of perspective of just how divisive the war was even for wealthy,
...more
Judy
Jun 24, 2010 Judy rated it liked it
This is the New York entry into the challenge of reading a mystery book set in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. I love books with an academic setting and Amanda Cross fits the bill with this fourth in the Kate Fansler series. Kate is an intellectual from the upper class who is a college professor in New York City. While on sabbatical, she agrees to return to her alma mater, Theban, a private girls school on Manhatten's upper East Side, to teach a seminar on Antigone. Set in the 1970s, ...more
Writerlibrarian
Kate Fansler's mystery are always like intricate lace work. Full of winks at authors and literary work. Here, The Theban is an all girls private school where the senior are studying Antigone for the winter semester. Set in the early 70's, we have a parallel between the Vietnam war, the draft and the generation gap and Sophocles's play about filial loyalty, civil desobeisance and a head strong, doomed young woman. What I like about Amanda Cross's novels is the atmosphere, the frills around the pl ...more
meeners
Aug 25, 2016 meeners rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
i've decided that amanda cross must be my patron saint. there's hardly any mystery in this book, but who cares! i'd be happy if this entire book was just kate fansler meditating wisely and compassionately on life, the universe, and everything (which basically it is). i'm reminded actually of a quote from the first book: "She had learned as a college teacher that if one simplified what one wished to say, one falsified it. It was possible only to say what one meant, as clearly as possible." yes in ...more
Tim
Jul 09, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
A good academic mystery. Professor Kate Fansler agrees to teach an Antigone seminar to seniors at the all-girls school she attended in NYC. Written in the early 70s it has a close sense of the generational struggles of the 60s as privileged kids spar with authority. The interplay of Antigone in the classroom with the politics outside, plus the excellent dialogue and insights into the lives of private school teachers and families was sharp, wise, and humorous.
Jean Carlton
Sep 16, 2015 Jean Carlton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My first by Amanda Cross (4th in the Kate Fansler series) and I see potential but the many references to Greek mythology no doubt robbed me of the full understanding of the plot not being up on The Antigone even though I recall reading it as a student years back. I do like an author that shows literary knowledge but this was heavily laced with 'meaningful' quotes that I knew I wasn't quite 'getting'.
Laura
May 16, 2012 Laura rated it liked it


This was my first Kate Fansler novel. Really liked the character, the writing and the many literary references, so I will definitely read more in the series. I only gave three stars because the actual mystery here was t that great. I enjoyed the discussion of Antigone and the social commentary more than the sleuthing.
Margaret
May 25, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it
Another well written mystery centered around academia. I rather found the plot of Antigone, which I have never read, of more current interest than the moral dilemmas of the war in Vietnam, which, although "my" generation's war, belongs with its hippies and protests, in my mind, to the faded past.
Cyn Mcdonald
Aug 24, 2015 Cyn Mcdonald rated it it was ok
Somewhat dated but still enjoyable.
JZ
May 13, 2009 JZ marked it as to-read
Shelves: mystery, own
4th in series. 1971
Elaine
Apr 13, 2014 Elaine rated it it was ok
While the discussion of Antigone in relation to the Vietnam war was interesting, the mystery death that occurs is highly implausible. I was disappointed.
Maria
Aug 23, 2012 Maria rated it liked it
This is my first Kate Fansler mystery. It's not really a mystery more of a discussion of Anigone and the Vietnam War.
Cat
Feb 14, 2010 Cat added it
Death in a Tenured Position remains the best of the series that I've read.
Celeste
Oct 30, 2008 Celeste rated it it was amazing
These are great mysteries. Heilbrun writes these mysteries under the pseudonym of Amanda Cross. She is a well-repected English Professor and critic.
Tracey
Jul 18, 2010 Tracey added it
I recently rediscovered Amanda Cross. I love her mysteries -- highly literate, humorous, and well plotted.
Yvonna
Yvonna rated it really liked it
Jul 01, 2014
Marianne Skivers
Marianne Skivers rated it it was amazing
Feb 05, 2017
Maureen
Maureen rated it it was ok
Oct 19, 2013
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Sevil rated it liked it
Apr 07, 2015
Shirley
Shirley rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2013
Valarie Smith
Valarie Smith rated it it was ok
Apr 13, 2010
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Heather Mathie rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2014
Anne
Anne rated it liked it
Dec 04, 2008
Ravi Menon
Ravi Menon rated it it was ok
Jan 26, 2016
Vicki
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Jan 08, 2013
Simon Ruddell
Simon Ruddell rated it liked it
Nov 27, 2009
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Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (January 13, 1926 – October 9, 2003) was an American academic and prolific feminist author of both important academic studies and popular mystery novels under the pen name of Amanda Cross.

Heilbrun attended graduate school in English literature at Columbia University, receiving her M.A. in 1951 and Ph.D in 1959. Among her most important mentors were Columbia professors Jacques
...more
More about Carolyn G. Heilbrun...

Other Books in the Series

A Kate Fansler Mystery (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • In the Last Analysis (A Kate Fansler Mystery #1)
  • The James Joyce Murder (A Kate Fansler Mystery #2)
  • Poetic Justice (A Kate Fansler Mystery #3)
  • The Question of Max (A Kate Fansler Mystery #5)
  • Death in a Tenured Position (A Kate Fansler Mystery #6)
  • Sweet Death, Kind Death (A Kate Fansler Mystery #7)
  • No Word from Winifred (A Kate Fansler Mystery #8)
  • A Trap for Fools (A Kate Fansler Mystery #9)
  • The Players Come Again (A Kate Fansler Mystery #10)
  • An Imperfect Spy (A Kate Fansler Mystery #11)

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