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murder mezzo forte book coverPlease join Donn Taylor, author of Murder Mezzo Forte, as he tours the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Isn’t there an old saying, something like ‘no one loves a smart aleck’? If there isn’t, there oughtta be, and this book would be the exception to prove that rule. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, let me first say that I loved this book! On many grounds. For many reasons. The writing is excellent, as is the language utilized throughout. (No profanity)

The music running throughout. It’s mostly my fave – classical, but the author obviously loves it, too. The word-play running through the story: puns, mispronunciations, malaprops – just a general abundance of cleverness with words. Sample: “Naked steam engines may be arrested for indiesel exposure.” And the older hero (if so he be considered at 50+) is a history professor! I think he’s wonderful!

An oddity not usually encountered elsewhere is his ‘musical hallucinations’ whereby he has a mostly suitable soundtrack at various times and during various activities. It is not always the same music, and is sometimes apparently inspired by the company in which he finds himself. One supervisor brings up Bassoons – entirely fitting!

Preston Barclay is a professor at the smallish Overton University, which is in the Midwest somewhere. It was originally a religion-based school, but in this new era of ‘political correctness’ has changed itself into an almost unrecognizable anything. As a widower, he is sometimes targeted by a female professor, hopeful of capturing not only his attention, but perhaps himself, too.

There are two female professors at Overton, with whom he is on a respectful-friendly basis: Mara Thorn, a former Wiccan, now Christian who teaches Comparative Religion, and Mitra Fortier, a professor of physics. Mitra, a singer, was a bosom buddy of Press’s late wife, Faith, and as a result of their fondness for word-games, she has become Mezzo Forte in his mind. In the last few years, she’s become a somewhat prickly person. When Press and Mara are summoned from a reception to help Mitra with a problem in her office, they find her body on the floor. It seems that Mitra’s private life has intruded into her work life.

Within hours, the duo are engaged in a variety of hair-raising adventures, not least of which is the ever-present gossip machine, doing its best to convict them of misbehavior. As in the previous book (Rhapsody in Red) they encounter both incompetent and corrupt policemen as well as campus figures, starting at the top and working down the tenure ladder.

In the meantime Press’s only daughter Cindy, now a sophomore at the larger State University, finds herself and her boyfriend in a legal dispute about student’s rights. Press informs them of organizations that can be of assistance in these matters, but of course, that doesn’t solve all the problems.  He returns home only to find himself and Mara in a deeper mess. Someone has hacked their computers and the police chief happily uses the fake notes to ‘prove’ the unsightly charges he’s dreamed up.

It’s all very cleverly and believably done, and you may find yourself eagerly awaiting the next installment of this very entertaining series. I am hopeful that the next one takes less than eight years!


First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Donn Taylor. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.