If you've ever drifted off in a departmental meeting, languidly fantasizing about all the possible ways to murder your colleagues, have I got a novel for you. Katherine H. Burkman's mystery novel, April Cruel, sets its series of murders and manslaughters in the English Department of fictional Huston College in the 1970s. Medievalist Erica Berne is grieving her recently murdered fiancé but isn't receiving much support from faculty, staff, or students because she's a mean, self-righteous misanthrope. It may be bad form to speak ill of the dead, but for Erica's colleagues, this truism does not extend to loved ones of the deceased. Erica's robust character flaw makes life even more difficult for the grieving near-widow (and the mystery-solving reader) because someone at Huston is trying to kill her and nearly everyone has a motive. The fast-paced novel that follows is shocking, witty, and aptly designed to appeal...
LAURA KATHLEEN RICHARDSON is a lecturer at Rice University, where she teaches modern and contemporary literature, drama, and film. She is the author of “Theorizing the Extra in Pinter's The Comfort of Strangers” (The Harold Pinter Review, 2017) and “Edith Sitwell's Critical Self-Doubling” (The Many Facades of Edith Sitwell, 2017).
Laura Kathleen Richardson; April Cruel. The Harold Pinter Review 31 May 2020; 4 (1): 135–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/haropintrevi.4.1.0135
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