An Act of Murder

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Published by: Camel Press
Release Date: October 15, 2016
Pages: 236
ISBN13: 978-1603813754



In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play.

Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em’s house, Lenny advises caution—and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they’re on the brink of an important breakthrough.

Book 1 in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Professor Prather.

An Act of Murder is available in 5x8 trade paperback in bookstores near you, including Barnes and Noble and independent booksellers. Don’t see it at your library? Ask for it! Librarians are awesome resources. Bookstores and libraries can order wholesale through Ingram, Baker & Taylor or by contacting Libraries can also order from Brodart Company. Or find it in multiple eBook formats and online, including iBooks, Indie Bound and Kobo.


Book Club Questions for An Act of Murder

Place is an important aspect in all the Prof. Prather books, but especially in An Act of Murder. After growing up in a large city, Emmeline has recently moved to the small town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota. What is it about Copper Bluff that she likes? Would you like living in South Dakota? Why or why not?

A fraternity plays a role in An Act of Murder. How important is friendship in Greek life or any community? Does friendship mean lying for another person? How far would you go to protect a friend?

Poetry is popular on many college campuses, yet one of Em’s students makes his disdain for it well known. Em thinks he just hasn’t found the right poem. Do you agree? Is poetry still relevant today? How?


"Debut author Angela introduces a charming amateur sleuth, fun and well read. She so lovingly describes the town of Copper Bluff that readers can feel the breeze and smell the autumn leaves. Cozy enthusiasts who like Joanne Dobson and Sarah R. Shaber will dive into this new series."
—Library Journal

4 Stars: "The most unexpected solution proves to be the right one in this cozy debut by Angela. Set in Copper Bluff, S.D., this novel portrays small-town college life to a tee. Her suspects are varied, but apparent motives are slim as she teases the reader. Em is a force all her own and bodes well for this new series."
—RT Book Reviews

"An Act of Murderis the first volume in a new mystery series that features amateur sleuth Professor Emmeline Prather. A deftly crafted novel of unexpected twists and surprising turns, An Act of Murderclearly establishes author Mary Angela as an impressively skilled and original storyteller. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, An Act of Murderwill leave dedicated mystery buffs looking eagerly toward the next Professor Emmeline Prather adventure!"
—Margaret Lane for Midwest Book Review

4.5 Stars "This was a fantastic read and a lot of fun! Since this is the first book of the Cozy Mystery Series, I look forward to reading many more and cannot wait to see what Professor Emmeline Prather gets herself into next time!"
—Long and Short Reviews

"In this deftly-executed, literate, and literarynovel—the first in the Professor Prather mystery series—author Mary Angela introduces us to her delightfully quirky, fiercely intelligent, and immensely likableprotagonist, English professor Emmeline Prather, along with an eclectic roster of colorful characters populating the small college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota. With the help of her charmingly laid-back colleague, Professor Lenny Jenkins, Emmeline applies her keen and rigorous eye for comma splices and split infinitives to a series of clues in the troubling death of her student, Austin Oliver—taking us on a madcap and rivetingly engaging series of plot twists as Emmeline discovers that not only does she have a knack for literature, she also has a knack for solving murders."
—Lee Ann Roripaugh, South Dakota State Poet Laureate

“Mary Angela has begun her new mystery series with a home run. An Act of Murderis a cozy tale with a fun and well-read heroine, English professor Emmeline Prather. Set in a college town, the swiftly paced plot takes readers through several twists and turns. Professor Prather collects a handful of clues as she pieces together the motive, means, and opportunity to solve a puzzling murder. Her colleague and sidekick Lenny Jenkins is a charming character who may become a love interest in future installments. I look forward to adding Angela’s future books to my list of must-read murder mysteries.”
—Colleen J. Shogan, author of the Washington Whodunit mysteries

“Combining the romance of academic life with a classic story of murder and intrigue, Mary Angela bursts on the cozy scene. Set in a small college town with a cast of colorful characters, An Act of Murderprovides the reader with all the right ingredients for a delicious literary treat. From her insights into the life of a college professor to the dramatic inclusion of the theater department's production of Les Mis, this entertaining tale is sure to keep you reading late into the night as you savor every word.”
—Elena Hartwell, author of the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series

"An Act of Murderoffers a loving description of a quiet, rural campus set amidst natural beauty, gentle, satiric gibes at faculty members who richly deserve it, and the puzzling death of a student. Professor Emmeline Prather is an unlikely detective: young and attractive, a chocoholic and a bit of a klutz, she tries to maintain a relatively low profile. But when she suspects her student has been murdered, she becomes a veritable bulldog, fiercely determined to uncover the perpetrator. Mary Angela’s debut novel maintains the suspense until the last few pages and creates a delightful new character for a series that is certain to entertain. I look forward to accompanying Professor Prather on her next adventure."
—Susan Wolfe, Professor Emerita of English

“What a treat it was to read a cozy mystery with such vivid descriptions that place you in the center of the story. There were times I felt like I was sitting in the student hangout and listened in on their conversations. I loved everything about Emmeline, from her directness, attention to details and a never give up attitude[.…] The author really knows how to write with twists that shake up the story with surprise and excellent snippets of intrigue. […] The ending was explosive with secrets that will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat .” Read more….
—Texas Book-aholic

“In this first installment of the Professor Prather Mystery series, we are introduced to an enjoyable cast of cozy characters in a delightful setting. Emmeline (Em) Prather is an English professor in Copper Bluff, South Dakota. I absolutely adore Emmeline. She is a perfect cozy sleuth. The setting is just wonderful.” Read more….
—Brooke Blogs

“There are numerous interesting angles and twists and turns in An Act of Murder that make it a most enjoyable read.” Read more….
—Back Porchervations

“Prather is a sympathetic and entertaining protagonist, and the little college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota is beautifully drawn. Mary Angela does a wonderful job at portraying small-town academia, and I am looking forward to Emmeline Prather’s next adventure.” Read more…
—Island Confidential

“Author Mary Angela paints beautiful word pictures of Copper Bluff—the town and the campus. I can clearly picture both of them in my mind…. [She] has created a cast of memorable characters, headed up by the quirky Emmeline Prather the Instigator, and her stalwart sidekick Lenny Jenkins. I love their witty repartee.” Read more….
—Jane Reads

“This series is off to a great start. The mystery is complicated and believable. The characters are real with plenty of room to evolve. The setting is intriguing with a huge pool of people to draw into future stories. Mary Angela is an author to watch. I am excited about upcoming installments to this story.” Read more….
—Escape with Dollycas

“Emmeline is this character that you love because she just seems like a real person. I found her quirks and passions to be similar to mine (Hello, France anyone?) which made me feel a friendship with her. In fact, all the characters are this way. You just love many of the professors. The mystery was great, and set up nicely. I found that the book just flowed into the mystery. It held great clues, but twists that kept you guessing.” Read more….
—Bree Herron, for Bibliophile Reviews

“The story is well written, full of twists and very addictive […]. This was a great read that left me turning the pages, eager to know what was going to happen next.” Read more….

5 Stars: "Never has my brain been given such a workout in a murder-mystery tale! An Act of Murderis a well-written and imaginative tale of a teacher whose determination to get to the truth and see justice done for one of her students is right on the money. Mary Angela’s debut novel in this intriguing whodunit series had me glued to every single page, determined to spot any clues to try to solve the mystery of the killer’s identity before the end. [...] Each of the characters was realistic and engaging, making An Act of Murdera real joy to read."
—Readers' Favorite Book Reviews

"This was a fun, sweet, and impressive first mystery novel for author Mary Angela that I enjoyed immensely. In fact, once I started reading, I finished the book in record time. The wonderfully in-depth and detailed descriptions of the town, seasons, and college were absolutely wonderful. There were so many times I could almost feel the chill of the wind or picture the breeze in the trees against the brick of the old buildings and I love when authors can create that setting for their reader. Author Mary Angela does this beautifully and with the mystery element added to this quaint little town I found myself enjoying every part of this story. A wonderful first mystery novel that has me wanting to read more.”
—Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Also in this series:



Death teaches us humility. This is what I thought as I walked into the single-road graveyard, becoming more aware with each step the life it took to walk and talk and breathe. It was no easy task, to stay alive, and yet the majority of us managed to do so, and often into old age. But here was an exception, a tragedy, and I wondered at its meaning while I traversed the uneven ground. As an English professor, I would have told my students that tragedies were meant to teach us as much about good as evil. I tried to apply that philosophy now and failed.

The good was in life, the walking down this brown path surrounded by sturdy trees. I couldn’t help but feel this way as my boots crunched the dead leaves that littered the dirt lane. Had he been alive, my student would have enjoyed this walk. He would have found beauty in its peace and remoteness. I smiled. He might even have found poetry.

The gravestone was small and freshly placed, and as I stood at the marker, a terrific wind came up in the trees. The branches swayed to and fro, making me dizzy with the sheer force of their movement. The wind continued to bend through the branches and bushes until it found me, reassuring like a childhood prayer. I knelt down, my slim book of verse in hand, and read the poem he had chosen for my class. It had always been one of my favorites.