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The Question of Max (A Kate Fansler Mystery #5)
by Amanda Cross
When professor and amateur sleuth Kate Fansler accompanies a fussy friend to the rocky coast of Maine to peruse the papers of a famous, recently deceased author, she is horrified to come across one of her students, dead. Which leads her to one very important question, namely, would Max stoop so low as to murder...?
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 12th 1987 by Fawcett
(first published 1976)
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Interesting with an ironic twist. I liked it. Très littéraire. Even if the writers that are featured in the book are fictional you kinda want them not be so you can read Dorothy's novel or Cecily's last book. Kate Fansler is still one of the coolest heroine in the mystery genre I know. In this novel, we find Kate trying out "parenting" since her now quite grown up nephew Leo (first seen in the James Joyce Murders) on the verge of college, the moral dilemma of being true to oneself despite the co ...more
Cross does interesting things with pacing; one knows there must be a mystery because, after all, it is a mystery novel. But the early disrupting event (view spoiler)[(the discovery of the dead body on the rocks (hide spoiler)] seems not to be a mystery at all, and so the book goes along, showing life in New York City in the mid-70s, with family tangles and literary drama, and then slowly the mystery is revealed -- or is it? The 'question' of the title is very much how the book is, the question o ...more
This was a different sort of cozy where we're not sure if there's even been a crime committed - high-brow literary professor Kate Fansler thinks there is and comes up with a scenario. I had read another book by this author (Death in a Tenured Position) with this character and I liked her much better in that - in this story she comes off a little snobby and stuck-up, much like the other main character, Max. Most of the story was not set in Maine unfortunately. This was okay, just didn't grab me m ...more
Although lots of things were interesting in this book, including the engagement with questions about who 'owns' or tells the stories of women's lives and the links to my other reading of the 'Somerville novelists,' I had a harder time than usual tolerating the arch tone: the artifice and pretension, though an homage, I know, to the Peter Wimsey books, sounds like them at their worst rather than at their best.
Why did I read this? I guess because it was a Virago edition and Virago's cool, I rarely read mysteries and thought I'd try it, and the back of the book mentioned that the clues to the mystery were buried "in the lives of leading women novelists and feminists." I dunno.
A really delightful book, my favorite so far in this series (which I am reading out of order). A definite must-read for the sort of bookish female who loves novels set in Oxford, although Kate only visits Oxford briefly in the novel.