Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Failure is Fatal by Lesley A. Diehl - #review #giveaway

Someone at Professor Laura Murphy’s college appears to be playing a joke on her by planting sexually explicit stories in her research results, but the joke turns deadly when one story details the recent stabbing murder of a coed. Laura’s close friend, Detective Derrick Pasquis from the local police, asks for her help in interviewing the prickly suspects who resist intervention from outside the campus community. Eager to search out clues, Laura ignores warning signs that playing amateur sleuth may jeopardize her newly developing romance with Guy. And of course her usual intrusive manner puts her at odds with everyone on campus—colleagues, the college administration, the head of campus security and fraternity members. Is there no one Laura can’t offend in her eagerness to find the truth? The closer she gets to solving the crime, the more it appears that the past—the coed’s, that of a prominent faculty member and Laura’s own—is the key to the murder. Caught in an early winter blizzard, Laura must choose between wandering the mountains and freezing to death or taking her chances with a killer clever enough to make murder look like the work of an innocent student.



Laura Murphy is back!  Her sassy brand of investigation, shown so well in the first book of the series, Murder is Academic, is back in full force in Failure is Fatal.  She may well have improved on her skill set.

We don't see so much of Guy, as the summer is over and he has to return to Canada, to his teaching job, and his children.  I'm glad to see that Guy's children and Laura get along, as sometimes blended families are a tough go.  And two of the kids are not even Guy's, but his ex-wife's from an earlier marriage.  But it's all one big happy family, and that is very, very nice.

The college denizens (faculty, administration, et al) have apparently not learned their lessons and come up with new and disheartening ways to give institutions of higher learning a black eye.  You think getting a little education would be a good thing, earning us points towards enlightenment.  Ugh.  Time to pull myself back from rant mode.  To be fair, I had some wonderful moments during my academic career, which culminated in a BS degree in Finance.  (The humor of having a 'BS' degree has not escaped me.)  This time around, they have added 'misogynistic chauvinism' to their list of offences.

Then there is the fraternity.  Most of them make the 'bad fraternity' in the movie Animal House look sweet by comparison.  They have been executing a plan at messing up Laura's research by sending moles to act as research participants.  They threaten or bully two pledges (one being a young woman rushing a sorority) to insert pre-written responses to copy into their test results.  They even employ racial epithets in their attempts at intimidating the young woman - who later winds up dead in the mall parking lot.

Laura's got some stones, let me tell you.  In order to do some snooping, which her police detective friend Der has advised against, she walks into a car dealership and convinces them to let her have a 24 hour test drive of an SUV she has no intention of buying!  And then Laura uses the SUV to go into town (during an early season snowstorm) and look around in the fraternity house when the brothers are off for a weekend in the big city.  Of course, she didn't count on one student who stayed behind because he was sick.

Which begs the question: "Can't we all just get along?"

Ms. Diehl's approachable writing style is back in Failure is Fatal.  Obviously well educated herself, her style is delightfully 'unstuffy'.  She even makes going to an institution of  higher education a worthwhile endeavor - and that is nothing short of a miracle!

Failure is Fatal is a worthy successor to Murder is Academic.  And the best news?  Laura Murphy is not done!



Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing SeriesBig Lake Mystery Series,Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   




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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  Post contains affiliate links.)


  1. This is a new author to me, would love to read.

  2. Seems like this one with a cool protagonist once again working to solve this interesting case. And it sounds like there were a lot of suspects that it might have been!