A famous journalism dead is found dead at the bottom of a stairwell. Accident or murder? The police suspect members of the faculty who had engaged in fierce quarrels with the dean—distinguished scholars who were known to attack the dean like brutal schoolyard bullies. When Meredith “Red” Solaris is appointed interim dean, the faculty suspects are furious. Will the beautiful red-haired professor be next? The case detective tries to protect her as he heads the investigation, but incoming threats lead him to believe Red’s the next target for death.
Meredith "Red" Solaris is associate dean for the School of Journalism at a University in northern Nevada. Shortly after a heated faculty meeting, the dean, Henry Brooks, is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. It isn't too long before it soon becomes apparent that what was at first thought of as an accident turns out to be a murder.
After the death, Meredith is appointed Interim Dean. Along with that comes the problems of the school - a student caught cheating and recommended for expulsion, for one - and a host of suspects, which includes three of the tenured faculty members.
Along the way, Meredith finds herself attracted to the lead detective, Joe Morgan. The attraction is mutual, but both have decided to keep their distance until the investigation is complete, which is proving hard to do. Add to that the demons of their own pasts that they carry and must deal with, which makes a relationship between them a lot harder to navigate. Yes, I know that as a detective Joe "shared" too much information with Meredith, but in my opinion I don't feel that it detracted from the book (and I am a stickler for things like that - just read my other reviews.)
I truly enjoyed this story. The characters are fleshed out and believable, and I found myself rooting the entire way for Meredith as she wends her way through the problems of being dean at a college, and watching her handle each one as it comes along.
I also liked the fact that the solving of the murder took place over a period of time - from just before Thanksgiving right up until early spring, just as it might have in the real world. In a murder such as this one, with no apparent suspects and no real evidence, it's not likely it would be solved in a week or two. Given the period of time involved, I got to see the changes that occurred in Meredith and Joe's relationship - the attraction, the insecurities, etc. It was refreshing, to say the least.
As to the murder itself, I really wasn't sure who the murderer was right away (and I'm pretty good at figuring it out since I read a lot of mysteries.) The reason for the murder, as it were, made sense and fit right in with the rest of what was happening. The plot was woven well, but not twisted or hard to follow; and it was enjoyable to see the "redemption" of one of the characters (you can't in reality expect redemption of all, even though it does happen in some books.) All in all, a highly enjoyable read that is also highly recommended.