A Killing Spring

A Killing Spring

A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery

Paperback - 1997
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Gail Bowen, winner of the 1995 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel for her last Joanne Kilbourn mystery, A Colder Kind of Death, is back -- with her most daring mystery to date.

In the horrifying opening paragraph of A Killing Spring , Reed Gallagher, the head of the School of Journalism at the university where Joanne Kilbourn teaches, is found dead in a seedy rooming house. He is dressed in women's lingerie, with an electric cord around his neck. Suicide, the police say. A clear case of accidental suicide. But for Joanne, who takes on the thankless task of breaking the news to Gallagher's wife, this death is just the first in a series of misfortunes that rock her life, both professional and personal.

A few days after Gallagher's death, the School of Journalism is vandalized -- its offices and computers are trashed, and homophobic graffiti are sprayed everywhere. Then an unattractive and unpopular journalism student in Joanne's politics class stops coming to school after complaining to an unbelieving Joanne that she's being sexually harassed. Clearly, all is not as well at the university as Joanne had thought. Nor is all well in her love life after the casual racism of a stranger drives a wedge between Joanne and her lover, Inspector Alex Kequahtooway. To make matters worse, Joanne is unceremoniously fired by her best friend from the weekly political panel on Nationtv, which she's being doing for years.

Badly shaken by these calamities, Joanne struggles to carry cheerfully on. Action, she knows, is better for her than moping. She decides to find out why her student has stopped coming to class, and in doing so, Joanne steps unknowingly into an on-campus world of fear and deceit and murder.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : McClelland & Stewart, 1997, c1996.
ISBN: 9780771014864
Characteristics: 266 pages ;,18 cm.


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There is something a bit too trite about this plot. We don't really know why the murder made the victim's death so scandalous ( erotic asphyxiation) and there is just so much sleaze in this small university town it beggars belief. Louse Penny has raised the bar on writing about small town murder mysteries. Gail writes as though she is churning out plots for the publisher, not for the reader's enjoyment.

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