Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: A Function of Murder by Ada Madison

A Function of Murder (Sophie Knowles, Book #3)
by Ada Madison
Release Date: December 31st, 2012
2012 Berkley Prime Crime
Paperback Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-425-25175-1
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Penguin

3.5 / 5 Stars

At the math department’s graduation party, Sophie hears heated arguments coming from the graduates about Mayor Graves, the commencement speaker. Not the mayor’s biggest fan, Sophie is happy to escape the drama with an after-hours campus stroll accompanied by her helicopter-piloting boyfriend, Bruce Granville. However, their date is interrupted by the mayor himself—with a knife in his back.

As it turns out, the knife is actually a Henley College letter opener—something that is gifted to every member of the graduating class. Sophie is led to a complicated puzzle of scandal and corruption, and it seems that Mayor Graves is at the apex of it all. When Sophie finds out that the mayor was seeking her help on the day he was murdered, she must use her top-notch logic to crack the puzzle and catch the killer running free on campus…

My Thoughts
A Function of Murder was an enjoyable addition to the Sophie Knowles cozy mystery series.  As delightful as The Square Root of Murder and The Probability of Murder, I had fun revisiting Henley College and the antics of the professors and the students as they had to deal with another murder on their campus. And while it was fun, and the author has a wry and funny sense of humour, I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one as I couldn't really buy into why the mayor would have called upon Sophie for her help at the last minute when he really didn't know her very well. 

First of all, the story itself was fun and enjoyable, and the characters are always unique and witty and developed. I definitely had fun reading about all the different entanglements between the characters as well as some of the secondary storylines that Sophie had to deal with, such as having one of her students using Facebook to try and garner sympathy for a grade change which caused Sophie an enormous amount of stress, or dealing with another student who was a bit naive in the love department and sort of did something a bit rash and silly.  And some of the continuing conflicts that Sophie has with other colleagues, albeit minor, were also rather intriguing.  And to be quite honest, I found those to be somewhat more interesting than the murder/mystery storyline that I didn't quite buy into.  Why? For one thing, Sophie acknowledges at the graduation ceremony that she doesn't really know the mayor, but suddenly he was calling her for her help on the day he was murdered seems a bit too farfetched for me. The rest of the storyline works rather well, it's just that part that doesn't ring true to me and I couldn't really let it go.  Oh, and I figured out who the murderer was rather early on so the suspense build-up wasn't really there for me, but I did read on other sites that they were caught by surprise so perhaps it's just my twisted, rather suspicious mind that would have caught it early on.

The characters and their interactions with each other however, are what makes this series so enjoyable. Sophie is a bit sarcastic and I love that about her as I am somewhat sarcastic myself so I get her completely.  I really enjoy the conversations she has with others, and how she interacts with others, not always knowing the details to the case, having to learn from her boyfriend or even her students what is going on. It's really rather fun to see how she finagles the information she wants and needs from other people.  

A Function of Murder is an enjoyable addition to the Sophie Knowles cozy mystery series. You can either begin with The Square Root of Murder, the first novel in the series, but it's not necessary to read them in order as they function very well independently.  I didn't find this one to be quite as good as the first two in the series, but it was still a lot of fun and the characters and secondary storylines certainly make a very interesting read.