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The Musubi Murder: A Professor Molly Mystery (Professor Molly Mysteries Book 1) Hardcover – July 22, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
Professor Molly Barda, the narrator of the pseudonymous Bow’s winning first mystery, is pursuing tenure at Hawaii’s Mahina State University. The academic politics of Mahina are tougher than most, but Molly plays the game quietly until guest of honor Jimmy Tanaka, the owner of the Merrie Musubi fast-food chain and a potential major donor to Mahina, fails to show for a big reception at the school cafeteria. Molly unwillingly enters a search for Tanaka, and in the process finds herself falling for the man’s competitor, Donnie Gonsalves, the owner of Donnie’s Drive-Inns. Amid faculty grudges and unpopular student retention policies, Molly searches for the key to not just the missing Musubi mogul but a nasty killing. Bow, who teaches at a public university, uses wry humor to alleviate the horror of her heroine’s situation and is familiar enough with island culture to know the popularity of Musubi rice balls with a heart of Spam. (Aug.)
From Library Journal
Molly Barda is a faculty member at Mahina State University, teaching at the College of Commerce in Hawaii. All she wants to do is lay low and work until she is granted tenure. Fast-food guru Jimmy Tanaka makes a donation to the college but fails to show up for the ceremony. Nobody can find him. Old secrets, long-standing grudges, and murder are on the menu. This humorous debut makes entertaining use of the local patois. Anyone who has ever labored on a college campus will recognize the place and its resident academic egos. VERDICT Certain to appeal to readers who love well-drawn settings or academic cozies such as Sarah Shaber’s “Simon Shaw” series or Clea Simon’s “Dulcie Schwartz” books.
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The characters are witty and fun, especially Molly and her best friend Emma Nakamura. Of all the characters, I most enjoyed Dr. Molly Barda, teacher at the College of Commerce at a public university in Hawaii. The life of a professor at a public institution anywhere doesn’t sound like a blast. Frankie Bow writes of tenure, lack of funding, challenges of unmet needs such as chairs in one’s office, working air conditioning, and backing from the Dean or the Student Retention staff with regards to absenteeism or student plagiarism with tongue-in-cheek humor while demonstrating the role that professional educators can play to positively influence students. Even those who plagiarized their research papers, such as Davison Gonzalves and Isaiah Pung.
Jimmy Tanaka was a businessman of questionable standards, yet he made a huge donation to the College of Commerce. He was mysteriously absent from the breakfast being given in his honor, and had not been seen since the evening before. Had he been out too late, overslept, or otherwise gone awol? That was a mystery in itself until the local police research a grisly find…
Molly, Emma, and the third member of the group of three close friends, Patrick Flanagan, discuss the mystery at length. There is no shortage of suspects, but there is a shortage of clues and evidence. Patrick is a passionate local newsblogger who is always looking for the big headline, as well as a fellow university instructor. They have known each other long enough to be able to discuss anything, even if they are not on the same page. Then the death of a student is discovered, and the stakes are raised – was he in on the Tanaka mystery, or had he just had a very unusual accident?
In the meantime, there was a potential for romance between Donnie Gonzalves, a local businessman, and Molly. Part of that romance depended on the ethics of dating the parent of a student, especially one who is a challenge when it comes to homework. He seemed to improve when he learned that his teacher and his dad were friends. But Donnie was one of the potential suspects, and had many, many reasons – dollars – to want Tanaka out of the way.
The primary characters were delightful and intelligent, and all of the characters were defined as much as necessary for their role. It was interesting to hear about life in Hawaii, and about education. Frankie Bow is excellent at using conversation and behaviors to show us about the characters – so much so that I am looking forward to my next visit with Molly, Emma, and Patrick, as well as how the College of Commerce uses the grant from the late Mr. Tanaka.
The story kept me guessing throughout, as there were twists and turns that definitely were surprising! It was interesting to learn a little bit about the business models and snippets about anatomy. I most enjoyed that the author was able to keep the story interesting and moving at a fast pace. It was exciting and intriguing, and the pace was further accelerated by the great narration of Nicole Gose, who read and quoted with a sense of urgency throughout. The plot was definitely unique; while the motive is frequently used, I have not read one with similar details. I highly recommend this mystery to adults of any age and older teens.
With a grateful heart, I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
The author has developed a start of what looks to be a pretty good mystery series. The characters, setting and plot are well thought out and developed. There is a lot of humor from the funding or lack thereof for the university as well as the ways they cope with the shortages and their daily university life. School politics, working conditions and how much in control the professors have also lend to the hilarity and realism of the book. I enjoyed reading realistic depictions of life in Hawaii as well as of university life. I think the series will turn out to be quite an enjoyable read for those who are always, like me, looking for a good, cozy mystery to dive right into, one that is realistic and substantive, but not too heavy to read. I look forward to the next book and further adventures of Molly and her friends in Hawaii and the nifty escapades they can get into. I received this from Library Thing to read and provide an honest review.