Wednesday 4 April 2018

Academic Affairs: A Poisoned Apple - Peter Likins

Academic Affairs: A Poisoned Apple
Peter Likins
Darby Books
ISBN 9780997042375

I was asked to review this novel. Originally, I struggled with finishing it. It just did not keep my interest. When I was pressured to review it, I finally slogged my way through it. And to be honest I typically do not review books that I give less than 3 stars, but for this one I made an exception. The author Peter Likins is a retired university professor and president, he was president at both University of Arizona and Lehigh University. He was a university athlete, and has many successes academically and professionally, but I would state this book is not one of them. I will admit I do not read a lot of mysteries these days, in fact I read less fiction than non-fiction. But I do average over 100 books a year, and of the over 200 books I have read in the last 12 months this might be the weakest.

Maybe my expectations were too high going into this book. Based on the hype and promotion around it I was expecting a lot. Something along the lines of a Robert B. Parker, but this book was no Spencer novel. When I read a book that I do not rate high, there is usually something in it, or the writing that I give the author the benefit of the doubt. I have read a fist book by an author and given it 3 stars; but saw potential and read another by the author and ended up giving it a 5/5 stars. But this is the third published novel by Likins, I find that I just cannot hope the writing would be better, and even though the concepts of the other two novels look interesting, after reading this book I am just not willing to give them the chance. And it is only with the greatest of charity that I did not give this book a single lonely star. It took a long internal debate about that. But erroring on the side of caution I give it 2 stars.

The story takes place in a mall university town in the south. When three murders take place in quick succession the town's Sheriff, Jake Muffett, and his two children who are on his force originally believed it would be a quick case, but alas like this reader's hope in this book, they were dashed. This book has academic dishonesty, a university president who 'took advantage of' new female staff at his annual Christmas party. A wife left at home suffering illness.

Now we do not have an actual rape in the story, but they way it was handled, and the apparent frequency in this small town makes the book most unlikely. I could not stretch my imagination far enough to believe this story, even for just entertainments sake. Between the sexual assaults, and the trio of women of color who are ignored by most but seem to solve the mystery … It was just too many hole and the writing so weak. Maybe I will look up some of Likins actual academic works, or his papers on aeronautics maybe they will be a better read.

Books by Peter Likins:
A New American Family: A Love Story
Academic Affairs: A Poisoned Apple
Coyote Speaks: Cross Country Run

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