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Murder In Lecture Hall B Paperback – November 1, 2011
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About the Author
Michael Martin has been a woodwork teacher at the Waldorf school in Nurnberg, Germany, for many years.
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I should have known better than to purchase this book. There is nothing in Martin's non-fiction prose that might lead one to suspect he "has a novel in him." Most of "Lecture Hall" is written in dry narrative style, with little in the way of dialog or creative exposition. I don't have to go past the third page for an example of the quality of writing one would encounter in "Lecture Hall":
"Then it occurred to Jordon that it might be advantageous to list these answers on the blackboard before he criticized them and started to look for a piece of chalk. Damn! None was to be seen. Alas! He must go on without the chalk."
I'm sure a diligent scanner could find examples of infelicitous phrasing in "The Great Gatsby," too, but while I wish I could report that the "Alas! No Chalk!" lines are aberrations, that is in fact emblematic of what you will find throughout the book.
This is a shame. Martin is a clear thinker and his idea of using fiction to create a scenario, a story, to explicate atheist ideas is a good one. While religion has scores of stories that get across its dubious ideas--"The Chronicles of Narnia," "Pilgrim's Progress," "The Book of the Dun Cow," the Harry Potter series, etc.--atheists so far really only have the works of Philip Pullman and a few others (however, for a couple of pleasant surprises, see The Infernova and Crawl). I sincerely wish I could report that Martin's fiction could help to fill the need for decent atheist fiction. The most I can say is that "Lecture Hall" fills a "much-needed gap."