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The Raven and the Nightingale [Kindle Edition]

Joanne Dobson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $5.98
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

An unexpected bequest sends waves of violence through the placid groves of academe in Joanne Dobson's third mystery to feature Professor Karen Pelletier.

Still untenured, and therefore on shaky academic ground, feisty young Enfield College professor Pelletier finds herself going head-to-head with the resident Edgar Allan Poe expert, Elliot Corbin, an academic windbag of monumental proportions who is lobbying to be appointed to the much-coveted and recently vacated Palaver Chair. So when Karen receives a serendipitous bonanza in the form of never-before-seen manuscripts and journals by the nineteenth-century poet Emmeline Foster, who is rumored to have killed herself for the love of Poe, Corbin is predictably put out.

Subsequently, the corrosive Corbin is stabbed to death in his home on Thanksgiving Day. Karen has an airtight alibi, but other suspects abound--from the head of the women's studies program, who also pines for the Palaver Chair; to Visiting Poet Jane Birdwort, whose history with Corbin turns out to be far longer (and closer) than anyone had known; to the perpetually disgruntled department secretary; to a young female adjunct professor whose unbridled ambition will not be denied.

Then Karen's office is ransacked, and a number of the Emmeline Foster journals and poems are stolen, so it looks more and more as if Corbin's death may be inextricably entwined with the muse of his life--poet of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. The undeniably attractive Lieutenant Piotrowski is called in, and, as in the past, he solicits Karen's help, involving her once more in the thankless task of investigating her not-always-so-collegial colleagues.

As she did in her first two widely acclaimed novels, Joanne Dobson uses her savvy insider's knowledge of academic politics and her considerable talent for complex plotting to produce a witty and eminently satisfying entertainment.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Dobson's new Karen Pelletier mystery (after Quieter Than Sleep and The Northbury Papers), the young English professor again applies the rules of scholarly research to help hunky Lieutenant Piotrowski solve a murder. This time the deceased is ambitious Edgar Allan Poe scholar Elliot Corbin, who has hogged the limelight and perks available in the English department at Enfield, the elite New England college where Karen teaches. Corbin and a crew of others are on hand when Pelletier receives as a gift a huge box of papers and journals belonging to Emmeline Foster, a (fictitious) 19th-century poet who is believed to have committed suicide out of doomed love for the notoriously destructiveAand self-destructiveAPoe. When one of Emmeline's journals vanishes from Karen's office, the professor suspects that the disappearance has something to do with professional competition. Karen is clear-eyed about her colleagues and about how tough it is to build a career and a reputation in academia; after all, she landed in Enfield after an abusive, poverty-scarred childhood and early marriage. When Corbin turns up dead, however, she learns that the histories and motives of Enfield's English department are darker than she dreamed. Indeed, life mirrors art as Karen links the crime to a mystery in Poe's own life. Unfortunately, it takes more than a good idea to write a riveting murder yarn. Although Dobson gets the details of academia just right, the mystery clues she plants are so obvious that the story feels as hokey as a paint-by-numbers portraitAa failing that will prompt more than one reader to sigh, "Nevermore." (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Karen Pelletier, the intrepid English professor and literary sleuth who has appeared in two previous Dobson novels, is back with another tale of murder on the seemingly placid campus of Enfield College. In this outing, Pelletier's colleague, the obnoxious Edgar Allan Poe scholar Elliot Corbin, is killed in his study shortly after the discovery of papers indicating that Poe may have plagiarized "The Raven." As usual, Dobson delightfully skewers the pretensions and politics of academic life while respecting the importance of education and a life of the mind. She weaves themes and images from Poe's oeuvre throughout the story, and she creates two equally engrossing plots, one focusing on the present-day murder, the other exploring an unresolved mystery from the 1840s: Did Emmeline Foster kill herself because Poe wouldn't recognize her poem as his source material? Or was she murdered, by Poe or perhaps by her rapacious stepfather? The supporting cast will be familiar to anyone who attended college, but the novel will appeal to everyone who enjoys a good story. George Needham

Product Details

  • File Size: 466 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00540P9K2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,703 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun November 15, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first book in Joanne Dobson's series that I had read and it did not disappoint at all. I did not feel as though I were thrown in the middle of a series nor did I feel as though Joanne had to repeat everything for her first time readers - her writing skills are deft and strong as are her characters.
I love bibliomysteries and there is nothing better than one that focuses on EA Poe! The plot was very interesting, Karen Pelletier, an English professor at a small college in Mass. with a knack for solving literary crimes, is in the midst of a tough semester. She is battling the nasty weather, whiny students and other professors who would like to take over a large grant that she was bequeathed for a new study center when she receives a box filled with papers on an important and yet mostly forgotten poet, Emmeline Foster, who had an important link to Poe.
When some of the papers go missing and one of the college's most disliked professors is murdered - Karen is called in to help. Emmeline Foster's death in the 1840's was never really put to rest and Joanne manages to weave both deaths into an interesting and intriguing tale. Can Karen solve a murder, find the lost papers, find a missing student and still enjoy the holiday break?
I most enjoyed Karen's relationship with Lt. Piotrowski, a Detective that she has crossed paths with in Dobson's past two novels. I can't wait to see what develops between them. All in all, I was engrossed in the plot and could not put this book down. The story had me so fascinated - I could not wait to start researching Emmeline Foster and her work - but was amazed to discover that she was a fictitious character - that is how well written this book is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery That Raises Fundamental Literary Questions January 12, 2004
The Raven and the Nightingale is the third volume in Professor Joanne Dobson's series about Professor Karen Pelletier. In Quieter than Sleep, readers first met the professor. Doctor Pelletier found herself pregnant as a teen in high school, and dropped out of her plans to go to Smith to marry her truck driver lover. After a difficult pregnancy and marital abuse, she put her life together to raise her daughter as a single Mom while pursuing her academic career. Finally finding love with a cop in New York, she abandoned him to follow her desire for a career to settle at tony, elite Enfield College in New England. Arriving at Enfield, she became the new kid on the English department block sharing responsibilities for 19th century American literature with an aggressive, pompous womanizer who wanted to discuss more than literature with her. She found herself attracted to all the wrong men, and attracted attention from men she would rather avoid. Ah well, back to those term papers! In The Northbury Papers, the professor has an unusual stroke of luck that makes her career prospects much brighter.
Those who liked Quieter than Sleep or The Northbury Papers will probably enjoy The Raven and the Nightingale as well.
I recommend reading Quieter than Sleep before this book because the characters won't make as much sense without having read that book first. Otherwise, you may find this book to be an average literary mystery.
Due to publicity about her forthcoming center for the study of women writers, the professor receives a huge box of papers authored by Emmeline Foster sent by an alum who had recently found them. Ms. Foster is connected to Edgar Allan Poe through a personal relationship and her suicide shortly following the publication of "The Raven.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You could have fooled me May 27, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Congratulations to Joanne Dobson for inventing a 19th century poet so convincingly, she almost had me convinced that Emmeline Foster actually lived. The details of her poor adumbrated life ring true, and her involvement with the desperate, paranoid Edgar Allan Poe had the authentic tragic ring to it. Finding out that she is only a fictional character made me feel diminished a bit, as though history had gotten suddenly a bit smaller.
Karen Pelletier's struggles in academia parallel Foster's journey towards artistic creation, and Karen's relationship with her daughter and her family are well observed and wry. I didn't think the Lieutenant whose lips strike her more and more favorably over the course of the novel was all that exciting. But, at least he was there in the clinch. I'll look forward to Dobson's continuing treatment of this relationship, even if not very eagerly. Good work all around, and plenty of fun and suspense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and a thought-provoking secondary theme February 15, 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Totally agree with Kevin Killian's review--Joanne Dobson makes Emmeline Foster SO real, she is as compelling as the rest of the main characters in this third-in-the-series installment. The literary aspects of the entire series, and the concept of "original idea" versus plagarism in this book, add spice for those seeking more than just a standard mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars raven and the nightingale review October 18, 2000
By sam
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dobson's heroine is an English professor at a small liberal arts college, and this mystery does a very good job of conveying teaching life--the classroom discussions, the way professors talk with one another about literature and about their department, and the unending work of being an English teacher with papers and tests to grade. The college is in Massachusetts and the book also makes the reader feel November and December in New England: the cold, the threatening storms, the scariness of bare branches scraping against a window in the night. The mystery itself is good; it connects the parts of the story--academic life for teachers and students, Poe, research, mysterious journals and manuscripts, and others; and it makes sense that an English teacher would "read" and analyze what is occurring and solve it. I enjoyed reading about Karen Pelletier's life as much as I liked the mystery, although on some occasions I find her a bit off-putting--she's a bit narcissistic. And the romance (which hasn't happened yet but is being prepared) is of course with a policeman: I realize a romance between a policeman and a non-detective heroine is a convenient, believable way to get the police and what they know into the book, but it is the staple of way too many mysteries.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by Slick Bullard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 months ago by susan m cramer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Addition to the Series
I've enjoyed every entry so far in this series. I appreciate that Karen is involved in mysteries but doesn't consider herself a "sleuth" or smarter than the police and doesn't get... Read more
Published on October 7, 2012 by CDB Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars A Ph.D. is not a credential for guilt or innocence
It is Enfield College in western New England, (one thinks of names of actual colleges, Elmira, Endicott), and Professor Pelletier is teaching Poe to freshmen. Read more
Published on August 2, 2004 by Mary E. Sibley
3.0 out of 5 stars Quoth the Reader, "Nevermore"
Joanne Dobson's mystery of academia is a passable book. It certainly wasn't unpleasant to read, but I don't feel I gained much from reading it. Read more
Published on November 18, 2003 by Patrick Burnett
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, Not For Poe Fans
Dobson has written a great book here. Her style is very readable and very likeable. Troublesome aspects for me seem to be exactly what others are praising; it seems that the only... Read more
Published on March 19, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Academic Mystery
Karen is an assistant professor of English in a small but prestigious New England college. Her colleague is a pompous blowhard with more of a reputation than he deserves, an... Read more
Published on September 24, 2001 by Moe811
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to next book, too
I am really enjoying this series that began with Quieter than Sleep. Much much better female protagonist than the bestselling Janet Evanovich One for the Money series!
Published on January 2, 2000
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More About the Author

Joanne Dobson's latest novel, The Kashmiri Shawl, is her first venture into the genre of historical fiction. The novel tells an evocative tale of Anne Wheeler's epic journey from the sultry climes of 19th c. India to the cosmopolitan chaos of New York City, in search of a lost daughter and a forbidden love. The Kashmiri Shawl has been met with great enthusiasm by readers.

Joanne is also a mystery novelist and a scholar of American literature. Her six-book Professor Karen Pelletier mystery series won her an Agatha nomination and a Noted Author of the Year award from the New York State Library Association.

Formerly a tenured professor of American Literature at Fordham University, Joanne now teaches in National Endowment for the Humanities and Fulbright Fellowship International summer programs at Amherst College. She also teaches Creative Writing at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY. In 2014, Joanne was honored by the Writer's Center as Noted Woman of Letters.


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