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Final Exam (A Murder 101 Mystery) Hardcover – December 8, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Going back to dorm life isn't much fun for Alison Bergeron in Barbieri's uneven fourth puzzler to feature the reluctant crime magnet (after 2008's Quick Study). Alison, an English professor at St. Thomas University in the Bronx, becomes the temporary resident director of Siena dorm after Wayne Brookwell, its popular RD, fails to return from spring break. Det. Bobby Crawford of the NYPD, Alison's faithful boyfriend, helps her move into her new digs, Wayne's small, less than spotless suite. When the toilet overflows after Alison flushes it, Crawford cleans up the mess—and discovers a brick of heroin hidden under the bathroom floor. Adding spice is a love triangle involving Wayne and Amanda Reese, a Siena RA who's engaged to a Princeton student. Less entertaining is a subplot about Alison's bitchy best friend, whose estrangement from her detective husband has gone into overkill. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Teaching English at St. Thomas College, north of New York, is always full of surprises for Alison Bergeron, Barbieri’s professor-sleuth in search of both romance and tenure. In her fourth outing, the college president, who is not at all happy with Bergeron’s investigative pursuits, insists that she move into a dorm to serve as a resident director after the incumbent goes missing. Maggie is not pleased. Since she cannot find a way out, she is determined to find the missing director and bring him back to the college. When a search of his room leads to a stash of drugs, Alison calls her boyfriend, Detective Bobby Crawford, to take on the case. In addition to tracking down missing staff members and tangling with drug dealers, Maggie is trying to help her friend Max with her romantic woes while caring for her faithful dog. Alison’s fans will enjoy this latest romp—sort of chick lit goes to college and solves crimes. Not surprisingly, Kristin Davis of Sex in the City has optioned the series for television. --Barbara Bibel
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Product Details

  • Series: A Murder 101 Mystery (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376772
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,558,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Maggie Barbieri's "Final Exam" is the fourth in a series of breezy mysteries featuring Alison Bergeron, a professor of English at St. Thomas, a small college located north of New York City. Alison's penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time has gotten her into trouble on more than one occasion. Her best friend at St. Thomas is a maverick priest, Father Ken McManus, who also treads on thin ice with his superiors. Fortunately, Alison frequently gets a chance to let her hair down with her hunky boyfriend, Detective Bobby Crawford.

Much to Alison's displeasure, the college president railroads her into temporarily leaving her home in Dobbs Ferry (where her best girlfriend, Max, is licking her wounds after separating from her husband), and moving into a college dorm. She is to replace Wayne Brookwell, a twenty-six year old Resident Director who has suddenly disappeared. Alison's frenzied protests fall on deaf ears. The only concession she manages to wrangle out of President Etheridge is that Trixie, her beloved golden retriever, will move into the dorm with her. In addition, living on campus will eliminate Alison's tedious commute and give her much needed space from the morose Max. One thing is certain. No matter how many times Bobby warns Alison not to investigate on her own, she will move heaven and earth to find Wayne Brookwell.

"Final Exam" is a light and amusing confection. Alison has a deliciously sarcastic perspective on everything and everyone, and her inability to curb her curiosity gets her into hot water repeatedly. The razor-thin plot is a mishmash in which drugs and a love triangle feature prominently. At one point, Alison impersonates a flight attendant named Coco (don't ask).
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This is not a very big story, not a lot of action, a murder mystery with no murder. It deals with the discovery of a cache of drugs and missing college student who doesn't really seem to be missing. Yet, this story works! By this fourth Alison Bergeron mystery, I care about her. She is not a very dedicated teacher, and she does stupid things like wear high-heel shoes when there is no good reason to do so, but I still like her. I'm looking forward to reading No. 5 in the series.
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Format: Hardcover
North of New York City lies St. Thomas College where Professor Alison Bergeron teaches. Although she is eligible for tenure, she is denied the opportunity due in part to her penchant for solving mysteries especially murders that reflect badly on the college.

When Resident Director of the Sienna Dorm Wayne Brookwell vanishes, the Dean selects her to replace him over her objections. Being a quick study, she knows she has no choice unless she wants am even more miserable existence. Preparing for Extracurricular Activity of the unwanted student kind, Alison leaves her beloved home to reside in purgatory; understanding the nuking of her privacy especially with her lover Detective Bobby Crawford. Her new abode is more like a monk's isolation cell as even the toilet does not function nor by the looks of it has in eons. Crawford visits her in her new jail cell, but they soon find a major stash of heroin in the blocked toilet and a huge stash of marihuana. Alison seeks Wayne and there have been a zillion sightings, but not by her. Someone watching for Wayne marks Alison to silence her permanently.

This charming piquant romantic amateur sleuth is fun to read due to the strong cast; ACADEMIC and otherwise. Alison crashes the said image of a professor with her antics while the support cast, especially once the heroine is placed in hell, add eccentricity and hyperbole to the Final Exam whodunit. Maggie Barbieri provides another enjoyable Mystery 101 tale as class is in session with Professor Bergeron proctoring.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
When a dorm's resident director goes missing, English professor Alison Bergeron--who is hoping for tenure and being manipulated by this goal--gets drafted to filling his place. But when she discovers a load of drugs in the missing man's room, she wonders if there's something more complicated going on than an extended vacation. One thing she knows for certain...as long as the missing man remains simply missing, she's stuck doing his job, stuck on a dry campus with no boyfriend visitations, and stuck away from her own home, where her best friend is taking care of her newly semi-single status by going on a decorating tear.

Finding the missing man isn't especially difficult--he seems to pop up all over the campus. But he's a lot faster than Alison, and he doesn't seem to mind a bit of violence if that's what it takes to get away. Meanwhile, dangerous-looking men are showing up, looking for the missing resident director (and maybe for the drugs, too). And then there is the beautiful co-ed who was having an affair with the man. Alison, along with her cop-boyfriend, try to follow every lead, sometimes with discouraging results.

Author Maggie Barbieri writes with light touch that kept me smiling as I read. Alison occasionally does silly things, but she's well-motivated and it's not hard to sympathize with her impulsive decisions. This is the second book I've read in the Murder 101 series and Barbieri shows strong growth from her first effort.
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