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Strangled Prose (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 1) Mass Market Paperback – November 15, 1998
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Professor of Passion, the smutty new romance from Mildred Twiller--a.k.a. Azalea Twilight--isn't the kind of book Claire Mallow likes to hock at her bookstore, but Claire agrees to host a book party for her friend's trashy tale. As torrid as the novel is, it's nothing compared to the evening. After the party, poor Mildred is found dead in her home--stranged with a tightly knotted silk scarf. Now it's up to Clair to find Mildred's killer, and it won't be easy--the two-bit author had offended nearly every faculty member she worked with at nearby Faber College. But who could have hated Mildred with such smoldering passion?
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The book begins with the widow Malloy struggling with her business paperwork when she is approached by a 'friend,' a writer of popular romance novels who asks if she can roll out the latest bestseller at her store. Most business people would be happy to have an event that would bring customers to the story and create sales, but Malloy seems to be resentful about having to do this -- and this is before she finds out that the secrets of her husband and several other faculty members are brought to light in the book.
Faculty whose secrets have been leaked seem to rush from the store -- as does the author and Malloy (you can't do that if you are the only employee!) -- and soon the author is discovered strangled. Everyone, including Malloy and her snotty 14-year-old daughter are suspects. And Malloy, who seems to like no one in town, seems to feel she must attempt to solve the mystery.
An easy book to read and to solve early (I figured it out about 45 percent in).