College English professor and sometime amateur sleuth Alison Bergeron would've been thrilled to hear that her husband, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, was leaving Homicide if that were the whole story, but it turns out that Bobby's next assignment is even worse---undercover. As if worrying about his involvement in a case he won't talk about at all wasn't bad enough, Alison is forced to take over the women's basketball team at St. Thomas after the coach dies of a heart attack during a game. She may not know much about basketball, but she's no stranger to sleuthing, and it isn't long before she suspects that the coach's death may be more than unexpected but premeditated as well.
With Bobby deep undercover and Alison always on her way to deep trouble, it's only a matter of time before they run smack into each other in Physical Education, the latest in Maggie Barbieri's charming Murder 101 mystery series.
Barbieri adroitly mixes campus politics, mob wars, and religious scandals in her sixth mystery featuring English professor Alison Bergeron (after 2010's Third Degree). When Paul, the new mail carrier at St. Thomas, the small Catholic university in New York City where Alison teaches, turns up dead in the trunk of Alison's car, her new husband, Det. Robert Crawford, warns her off the case. Paul, it turns out, is really Vito Passella, a member of a local crime family. Meanwhile, Alison is deeply involved in temporarily coaching the school's basketball team a true test of her tact in dealing with incompetent players as well as their pushy parents. What little remains of her time is spent trying to exonerate her friend Fr. Kevin McManus, forced to take leave as school chaplain after anonymous accusations of impropriety. That Crawford becomes evasive and reclusive adds to her stress, but Alison remains irreverent, cynical, and totally engaging throughout.