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Caught Dead in Philadelphia (Amanda Pepper #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  660 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
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The debut of Philly Prep English teacher and accidental sleuth, Amanda Pepper, (and of C.K. Mackenzie, homicide detective) won the World Mystery Convention's "Anthony" for best first mystery.

When the body of a colleague is found dead in Amanda's living room, she has to clear herself of suspicion—and make sure she isn't the next victim as we
ebook, 110 pages
Published December 4th 2011 by Untreed Reads (first published October 16th 1987)
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Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I want to know his name! What does the CK stand for? Amanda Pepper must have guessed at least a dozen C names, not hitting on the right name for her detective. I don't think I could have come up with the assorted names that she did. I wonder if his name is Clifford or Christopher or Conway? Does the name game continue through the remainder of the Amanda Pepper series?

Other than the mystery of the great detective's name, there was also the little trouble of who killed Liza, the sometimes teacher
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book as I think the author has a wonderful sense of humor and some of the one-liners had me chuckling. Amanda Pepper is a fun character to know and seems to have a good, if tentative, head on her shoulders by not rushing foolishly into danger and thinking things through.

What I didn't like about the book was the apparent rushed ending with some dangling threads. Plus the how and the why of the criminal/crime along with capture was just...phfft! And I didn't really ca
I really wanted to like this book! It started off very well and it definitely had some funny moments. However, for the most of it, the book dragged! Despite being a really short one, it dragged. There was nothing happening and that annoyed me most of all! I like my detective stories with some kind of action - it could be either physical or mental, but this one disappointed me on all counts! There was no brilliant deduction and neither was there any physical search for evidence - it was all one b ...more
What does it say that a story set--and written--in the 1980s--is a "period" piece. The 1980's were not an era; they were shoulder pads and hairspray. I started to enjoy it more when I considered the narrator in a setting similar to Kinsey Millhone of Sue Grafton's alphabet series. Then it became fun: No calling 911 or Googling basic information.
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series
I have read these before and enjoyed them. Look! Now there are more, so I am starting the series again as my light in-between reads. Amanda Pepper is a one-liner Queen of Sarcasm. Great beach read.
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was thrilling and had me at the edge of my seat for the whole book. It's always predictable that she makes it out alive, because there's more books, so I knew she would live. But it's still fun reading how the author makes the book come to life!
Eva Cg
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly fun. Predictable in the usual whodunit fashion, but it's not too obvious right from the beginning, and the whole story is really enjoyable. Humorous, not too grisly, interesting love story, and a good twist to the storyline. I liked it and plan to read more from the same author.
One of my all-time favorite mystery series. The height of the "in-between reading" genre.
❂ Jennifer
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
If only more cozy authors wrote this well. An excellent read from an author who knew what she was doing.

Full review:
Linda Rowland
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read some time ago and all I remember is that I enjoyed it. Don't think I knew at the time it is a series.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was not my cup of tea. And it took forever to get finished with it. I'm not planning to read any more of Ms. Roberts mysteries.
Jan 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Roberts had a wonderful sense of humor.
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Pure fun fluff. Just keep reading the series.
Jill Holmes
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amanda Pepper, the lively heroine of the mysteries set in Philadelphia and written by Gillian Roberts (aka Judith Greber), is a 30-year-old teacher at Philadelphia Prep, a school for teens with unpromising academics both behind and ahead of them but with parents with the money to make sure their kids at least graduate from high school and get accepted to some (make that any) college. Amanda lives in a small historic home that she rents with her cat Macavity. None of these are personal tragedies, ...more
Amanda Pepper is a bit annoyed when a fellow teacher from Philadelphia Prep arrives, wet and dripping, on her doorstep one morning. She's also a bit confused--after all, she and Liza Nichols aren't exactly bosom pals. Liza, a part-time actress & part-time instructor, is beautiful and well on her way to becoming the full-time wife of a scion of one of Philadelphia's wealthiest families. Liza isn't too coherent about her purpose, but swears all she needs is some sleep--could she please take a ...more
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caught Dead In Philadelphia”, 1987, introduces a series I will probably enjoy. It features a city I haven’t explored. The mystery travels at a brisker, cruder pace than one expects of a ‘cozy’. This young woman swears, smokes, and doesn’t seem enamoured about teaching school. She dislikes her vice principal and is cynical about her Mother’s preoccupation with matchmaking. I favour most of the above, so long as eye-rolling isn’t habitual. I don’t mind giving a first novel, or one irritating book ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second Read February 14-15, 2016.
First Read June 20-21, 2015. Book Review from First Read.

What fun to discover a novel with the setting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! AND it's the first title of a mystery series!! AND the main character, Amanda Pepper is an English teacher turned sleuth!!! Then what a delight to learn that the author was a former English teacher in Philly!!! It makes one wonder if she did any sleuthing for the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) ;)


Two of my favorites i
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Can we please have a new trope? I'm getting really tired of the same character. You know the one. Middle-aged, thirty-something woman who is single, and whose mother won't stop nagging her about getting married. If I had a dollar for every book I've encountered using this stereotype, I could retire. It's an annoying character, because she spends half the book worrying about her love life, and the other half worrying about the plot, as if the plot were playing second-fiddle to the romance; and I ...more
If I'd cared more about the characters, I would have given it three stars. This is a pretty standard mystery - I wouldn't quite describe it as a cozy mystery, but some people put it there - and is the first in the Amanda Pepper books by Roberts. Pepper is an English teacher at a Philadelphia prep school (where the students have more money than brains). The part-time actress who helps her teach drama ends up murdered in Pepper's apt. There's also a small romance between the teacher and the invest ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I read most of the reviews on here to see if anyone else had the same problem with this book that I did. I am at a disadvantage because I read Book 1, 2, and 3 one right after the other. I also tried liking Amanda Pepper. She is witty, and as an English teacher myself, I understand her frustration with some of her students. BUT she bumbles and stumbles around the murders thinking she is smarter than the police. I really don't like C. K. Mackenzie. He is pompous. He doesn't want to listen to the ...more
Jennifer Zuna
Summary-When the body of a colleague is found dead in Amanda's living room, she has to clear herself of suspicion—and make sure she isn't the next victim as well. And all she's got as a clue to the real killer's identity is a locket shaped like Winnie-the-Pooh.

This book was different from what I usually read as far as mysteries go. It was a tad slow and dry but the main character did have some endearing qualities. The story wasn't very fast paced but there were some laughs and some cute one line
Jessica Weleski
Oct 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I picked up a handful of books by Gillian Roberts at a book sale, hoping that I'd discovered a new mystery author to like. The whole handful is going back to the book sale save this one. Eh...I just felt like at many points, the book couldn't decide if it wanted to be a mystery or a tawdry romance. At the end of the day,I just didn't fall in love with Amanda Pepper even though I really did want to like her.
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun little mystery. Clever dialog, and a bit of a twist at the end. Many reviewers mentioned being bothered by the fact that the detective goes by his initials and does not disclose his full name. It is not unusual for people in the southern U.S. to go by their initials, and this did not bother me. I read this as a part of the 2015 Book Challenge (read a book written by someone with the same initials as I have) and I enjoyed it.

I was excited about this book based on its description and really wanted to enjoy it. Unfortunately, it just dragged and dragged. I had to renew it twice from the library while reading it (unusual for me as I usually read right through for books that I enjoy). Unable to renew a third time, I did not get to finish this book, but the fact is that I did not really care. The plot seemed to go nowhere and the ending was of little interest to me anyway.
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I decided to read an "academic" mystery in honor of going back to school season. This book was pretty short and sweet. I'd maybe go up to 2.5 stars if I could. It was okay, not great, not bad. I might read more in the series because I did like Detective CK Mackenzie, but I won't rush into the next book.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read for me. I found out the series was available at the library in digital form, so I will probably re-read the whole series. Being from Philadelphia, her description of the neighborhoods and atmosphere of the city is captured. Pretty much liked the characters, although sometimes Amanda seems a little preachy.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book from the sole point of that it is was different. The main character (Amanda Pepper) wasn't and FBI agent or a cop or a forensic specialist. She is in an English teacher who through no fault of her own is thrown into a crime solving partnership with a cop.
Brenda Hawley
Being a high school teacher myself, I enjoyed this series of the teacher turned deterctive. Some quite realistic views of teenagers in high school and stresses and struggles of the teachers. Fun easy to read.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Some very good one liners, but otherwise fluffy beach read. I enjoyed it and will read more.
Liked this book more than I thought I would.
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Other Books in the Series

Amanda Pepper (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Philly Stakes (Amanda Pepper, #2)
  • I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia (Amanda Pepper, #3)
  • With Friends Like These... (Amanda Pepper, #4)
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Amanda Pepper, #5)
  • In the Dead of Summer (Amanda Pepper, #6)
  • The Mummers' Curse (Amanda Pepper, #7)
  • The Bluest Blood (Amanda Pepper, #8)
  • Adam and Evil (Amanda Pepper, #9)
  • Helen Hath No Fury (Amanda Pepper, #10)
  • Claire and Present Danger (Amanda Pepper, #11)
“It was certainly easy making conversation with this woman. You didn’t even have to know the native tongue.” 0 likes
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