Passport to Murder, by Mary Angela: A Parisian Idyll is Preempted by Murder

passport_murderDeath never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Adieu, Paris!

Passport to Murder ($15.95, 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-653-3) is the second cozy mystery by Mary Angela in a series featuring amateur sleuth and English professor Emmeline Prather. The murder of a professor cuts short a spring break getaway to Paris, and the remaining twelve travelers are all suspects, including Emmeline and her friend André.

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“Enjoyable [….] Emmeline’s shrewd questioning of students and professors uncovers hidden motives and secrets in this clever academic mystery.” Read more….

Publishers Weekly

4 Stars: “A murderer uses two distinct methods for murder in Angela’s second enthralling Emmeline Prather mystery. They are as unusual as they are different, which makes for intriguing reading. The world of academia is exciting in the way it is approached in this clandestine tale. Unique personalities abound and include more than one red herring.” Read more….

—RT Book Reviews

“The plotting is straightforward but has a nice (and believable) twist at the end, and the solution isn’t obvious, which makes it all a good puzzle. Overall, this is neither a character study nor a deeply plotted novel, but it is a fun, quick read filled with characters worth spending time with, just as a cozy should be, and both the setting and the relationships offer plenty of possibilities for future installments.” Read more….

Meredith Frazier, for Reviewing the Evidence

“Seeing the human side of the professors and faculty was an entertaining element of the book. They all had unique personalities and it was fun to see them shine outside of the classroom setting. [….] I can’t wait to see where these characters go next!” Read more….

—A Cozy Experience

4 Stars: “I enjoyed it. I liked the bookish heroine and her way of investigating that depends on her emotional intelligence.”  Read more….

—Danielle the Book Huntress for Affaire de Coeur Magazine

“I loved feeling the college experience again as we see Emmeline interacting with her English comp students and dealing with departmental and faculty politics. Her sleuthing is a delight. There are plenty of red herrings and clues for the armchair sleuth to consider along with Emmeline, and the grand unmasking of the killer hearkens beautifully to the familiar drawing-room exposes of classic mystery novels.” Read more….

—Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

“This is a great mystery novel that has a strong female lead, good supporting characters that offer some funny interactions, and enough action to keep the reader turning the page while guessing what will happen next. I highly recommend it to fans of the genre.” Read more….

—Books a Plenty Book Reviews

“I loved the relationship between Em and Lenny [….] They have chemistry and they understand each other. Their scenes together were my favorites. Lenny makes Em brighter, funnier and sharper. [….] This is a quick read, with a curious mystery, quite a variety of suspects and a mystery peanut.” Read more….

—Varietats Blog

“I was intrigued by the South Dakota location. [….] The reader is kept guessing who dun it all the way to the end. Passport to Murder is a great read and part of an interesting series.” Read more….

—My Reading Journeys

“Although this book focuses on a university setting and the main characters are quite well educated, that does not make them stuffy or boring. There is not a dull section in this quick paced, intriguing mystery. The characters are very relatable and interesting.” Read more….

—Laura’s Interests

“Return to Copper Bluff in this delightful second book to a series that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. [….] As my toddler says ‘brilliant, just brilliant!’” Read more….

—Bree Herron for Bibliophile Reviews

“Passport to Murder is an intelligent contemporary cosy which isn’t overly saccharine and should appeal to fans of the genre who like an amateur detective who approaches mysteries through the power of the intellect rather than through non-stop action.” Read more….

—Marina Sofia, for Crime Fiction Lover

“I connected with Emmeline instantly and I loved Lenny. The college setting was great as well. [….] I adored this book!”  Read more….

—A Chick Who Reads

“I liked how the author developed the characters and how they all play off of each other. Her descriptions of places were very detailed and you can feel a part of the story.” Read more….

—A Holland Reads

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.

When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

Says the author, “I’ve always been intrigued by superstition and myths, and I thought it would be thrilling to plot a book around a group of thirteen travelers. Plots are very important to me, and I’m disappointed when mysteries give me one or two suspects. So Passport to Murder was a way for me to entertain and challenge my readers (and myself!) while sorting through myriad possibilities.”

Mary Angela teaches English for the University of South Dakota and enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with her husband and two young daughters. An avid mystery fan, Mary is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“I’m fully prepared for a version of the city that doesn’t look like the cinematic Paris,” I said. “I’ve scanned articles about crime and corruption, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Paris can be not only heartless but also cruel.”

André laughed. “Good job. You just keep on reading your… what do you call it, whodunit? Maybe it will distract you from the flight.”

I smoothed the page and recalled the day I had purchased the book at Copper Bluff’s bookstore. Ensconced between the bar and jewelers, the tiny shop specialized in collectable books but sold used and new copies as well as all genres. The owner was from California, an exotic location to us, and incredibly wealthy. She was a terrific purveyor of literature, and I spent many afternoons poring over first editions she kept locked in a small bookcase. She was a friend to readers and writers in the area, not to mention jobless eccentrics, and although she didn’t host many events (Café Joe had more room), she supported local artists by carrying their work. There was no better friend to the arts.

Despite my book’s quick-moving plot, I was unable to concentrate on the words. I read and reread several pages, trying to immerse myself in the narrative. Yet all I could focus on were the bumps and drops of the plane and how the other passengers weathered them with such aplomb. It was as if they were not thirty thousand feet in the air but on a front porch swing.

I looked around. Molly and Nick were having a lively conversation to my left that was growing more heated. That entire side of the plane, in fact, had been a lot more animated and drawn my attention several times.

I soon realized I wasn’t the only one eavesdropping on Molly and Nick. The entire middle row was gawking in their direction as Molly’s gesticulations grew larger and more erratic. She seemed agitated, and now she tore at her seatbelt.

“What’s the matter, Mol? Molly? What is it?”

She was shaking her head back and forth, tearing at her throat.

He grabbed the backpack next to him, tugging at the zipper as it stuck halfway down. He retrieved what I assumed was an EpiPen, a little needle that looked like a child-size marker with a lid he had no trouble removing. The lid dropped to the floor as he stabbed the pen into her thigh with a force that made me jump. She slumped over, and he cried for help. Before the flight attendant could repeat the plea for a doctor, Dr. Judith Spade, our resident physician, was out of her seat examining Molly. The plane grew silent as we all watched in horror, waiting for Molly to regain consciousness.

She never did. Judith shook her head. The pretty Molly Jaspers was dead.

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