Gail Bowen, winner of the 1995 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel for her last Joanne Kilbourn mystery, A Colder Kind of Death, is back – with her most daring mystery to date.
In the horrifying opening paragraph of A Killing Spring, Reed Gallagher, the head of the School of Journalism at the university where Joanne Kilbourn teaches, is found dead in a seedy rooming house. He is dressed in women’s lingerie, with an electric cord around his neck. Suicide, the police say. A clear case of accidental suicide. But for Joanne, who takes on the thankless task of breaking the news to Gallagher’s wife, this death is just the first in a series of misfortunes that rock her life, both professional and personal.
A few days after Gallagher’s death, the School of Journalism is vandalized – its offices and computers are trashed, and homophobic graffiti are sprayed everywhere. Then an unattractive and unpopular journalism student in Joanne’s politics class stops coming to school after complaining to an unbelieving Joanne that she’s being sexually harassed. Clearly, all is not as well at the university as Joanne had thought. Nor is all well in her love life after the casual racism of a stranger drives a wedge between Joanne and her lover, Inspector Alex Kequahtooway. To make matters worse, Joanne is unceremoniously fired by her best friend from the weekly political panel on Nationtv, which she’s being doing for years.
Badly shaken by these calamities, Joanne struggles to carry cheerfully on. Action, she knows, is better for her than moping. She decides to find out why her student has stopped coming to class, and in doing so, Joanne steps unknowingly into an on-campus world of fear and deceit and murder.
It's springtime in Saskatchewan, and trouble blooms everywhere for university professor Joanne Kilbourne (A Colder Kind of Death). It starts when she agrees to help her lover, Ojibway police inspector Alex Kequahtooway, tell Julie Gallagher that her husband, Reed, is an apparent suicide. Since Reed's death seems to be from autoerotic asphyxiation, Joanne is stunned--the new head of the college's Journalism department never struck her as the kinky type. As she tries to make sense of her colleague's death, she must cope with the apparent sexual harassment of one of her students and with the sudden obsession of her best friend for a self-aggrandizing fellow teacher. When the student goes missing after telling Joanne that she has the scoop of a lifetime, and when her friend, a TV producer, removes Joanne from her longtime spot on a talk-show panel, she feels as if her life has turned topsy-turvy. When the student who had complained of sexual harassment turns up dead and her friend's new lover proves to be a batterer, Joanne is pressed into sleuthing action. Bowen has a hard eye for the way human ambition can take advantage of human gullibility, insight which makes this a compelling novel as well as a gripping mystery. FYI: A Colder Kind of Death won Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel.