Murder at the B-School
Jeffrey L. Cruikshank
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Murder at the B-School

Jeffrey L. Cruikshank
Mysterious Press
336 pages
October 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Harvard Business School has a reputation to protect. But when the very rich Eric MacInnes is found floating face-down in a campus hot tub, the powers that be are anxious to keep a lid on bad publicity, especially any talk of murder or suicide. The dean of the prestigious Business School personally appoints Wim Vermeer to act as intermediary with the policewoman covering the case, the inscrutable Barbara Brouillard.

Vermeer is a strange choice for such an assignment, probably not in line for tenure and certainly not the most popular teacher. However, it seems that Eric raved about Professor Vermeer. Wim, a distant relative of the artist, throws himself into the distraction offered by MacInnes' death, although confused that Eric should have been so impressed by his qualities as a teacher.

Boston police captain Barbara Brouillard realizes that the hapless professor may have an inside track on the workings of the financial world, not to mention his willingness to cooperate, but whether he is an asset or a hindrance is yet to be determined.

Things get more convoluted the more Wim and Brouillard uncover, struggling to make a logical picture out of pieces that just don't fit together. Sleuthing the details of the MacInnes family fortune, Wim forms a quasi-alliance with the patriarch of the family, but the wild card is Eric's younger brother, James, who shows an excess of aggression, one of those tantalizing questions that define the investigation.

Whoever is behind the murders has skillfully camouflaged his motives; from Boston to New York to Puerto Rico, the murderer manipulates a well-planned scenario with no intention of getting caught. As the body count rises, the helpful Wim suddenly appears to have a conflict of interests, unable to explain several suspect emails he wrote to Eric MacInnes. Either Wim is extraordinarily clever, or he has been masterfully set up.

Professor Vermeer has a surprisingly agile mind, quite helpful to Captain Brouillard, especially since he wants to prove he isn't the culprit. The author brings together two unlikely partners in Vermeer and Brouillard, who parry mutual attraction with excellent detective skills. Perhaps these two will become a team in a series of mysteries, combining their investigative abilities with the tension of unrequited romance. Not a bad combination.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2004

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