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Shadows on the Ivy: An Antique Print Mystery Paperback – Jul 5 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
In Agatha nominee Wait's third enjoyable antique print mystery (after 2003's Shadows on the Coast of Maine), professor, antique print dealer and part-time sleuth Maggie Summer gets embroiled in an on-campus murder. Somerset County College, thanks to wealthy benefactors Dorothy and Oliver Whitcomb, is experimenting with a new dormitory designed to house single parents and their children. During a party at the Whitcombs' house, one of the students is poisoned, and as student adviser for the dorm residents, Maggie takes great interest in the case. When another student is murdered, Maggie digs even harder to get at the truth. Who could possibly have a motive to harm these struggling students? Are the Whitcombs as benevolent as they seem, or do they each have ulterior motives that could prove sinister? Maggie is hard put to juggle her teaching duties (during lectures she uses antique prints to illustrate American history) with her detecting. While it has little to do with the plot, Wait's knowledge of antique prints and American culture will entertain and educate readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Maggie Summer, widowed, late thirties, owner of a house in Somerset County, New Jersey, history professor at the local junior college, and dealer in antique prints, is also the advisor to a house of single parents on campus. A wealthy local couple has endowed the house and the students so that they can live together, care for their children in a campus day-care center, and attend classes. When two of the young mothers are poisoned, all hell breaks loose. The president of the college thunders about the college's reputation, the donors' lives don't bear a lot of scrutiny, and Maggie is increasingly pressed to balance her work, her teaching, and her emotional isolation. Although the plot regularly veers into melodrama, Maggie is an extremely attractive protagonist. Descriptions of her antique prints head each chapter and have engaging connections to the content. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One of the loveliest trademarks of the Maggie Summer mysteries is that each chapter is headed by an actual description of an antique engraving or print, appropriate to the subject of the chapter. Author Lea Wait educates her readers effortlessly in American History, antique prints, and art appreciation, along with masterful suspense. There is not a single false step, tone or move in the flawless narrative. Shadow on the Ivy flows and entices.
The six students are also at the party but Sarah becomes ill and falls into a coma; she is rushed to the hospital where the doctors discover she was poisoned. They believe there was nicotine in the spicy drink she was having. A couple of days later another student is poisoned and is found in the House by one of the children. Tiffany was wilder than Sarah was and some of the mothers believe she was blackmailing someone. The case becomes personal when Maggie's office is trashed and someone tries to break into her home. To save Whitcomb House Maggie decides to see if she can discover who the killer really is.
SHADOWS ON THE IVY is very different from the other "Antique Mystery" book because this story concentrates on the heroine's life as a professor while the other works showcased the protagonist as an antique print dealer. Thus, this novel displays a completely different side of Maggie that readers will like. Lea Wait has written an exciting and entertaining academic mystery that provides a whole different meaning to study time.
None of these dilemmas is solved in Shadows/Ivy, but the killer is found and 2 mothers and daughters reunited. "Cozies" tend to lack suspense, and this is no exception. Otherwise, it's an OK mystery story.
This one doesn't fit the genre. There are very young children characters put in jeopardy. (A cozy no-no). A four year old girl's mother is poisoned and she's left in the care of a group of young single parents. (Would this happen in real life? Probably not without the supervision of a Social Service). This same little kid is traumatized when she finds the body of her mother's friend. The setting is the college where the protagonist teaches rather than the usual antique show. There are few characters so not much of a mystery. We know early on that it's one of a only a few disagreeable suspects.
Maggie has no Watson. The fun of cozies is meeting again the likeable characters from earlier books. No Will Brewster, no Gussie to help within this story. Maggie withholds evidence from the police, out of character for the Maggie of the earlier books. The motive of the murder was to hide the kinky bondage sex of a wealthy college supporter who will live to endulge his proclivities another day. The only character I liked was Winslow Homer, Maggie's cat and also the only element in this book of a true cozy.