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Theoretically Dead Paperback – October 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
For anyone working in the field of academics, whether as an academic themselves or in a support staff capacity, there is much to make fun of. Montgomery and Powell use a Philosophy Department conference as the setting for this hilariously funny, ribald and comedic mystery. Using the name of Erik Weber (pronounced "Vee-bur" in true Teutonic form), this husband and wife team pull out all the stops to make for a delightful cosy thriller.
Set at Hammond College (all names are meticulously close to the mark while still being fictitious), Professor Claire Sinclair, professor of economics and lesbian mate of famed philosopher Emma Harrington, finds herself in the middle of a theater of the absurd murder mystery as she strives to stay as far away as possible from Emma's upcoming conference. This conference, of course, may make or break Emma's chance at a new chair, which would enable her to continue her appointment at Hammond. As the administration strive to deal with keeping public relations under control after Professor Weber's body is found, Claire finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the quagmire:
"Claire,' Jack said, I guess that leaves you as the logical choice to talk to the media. Would you be wiling to do that?' I couldn't believe my ears. Would I be willing to run a press conference on the subject of Weber's death? Hell no, I wouldn't! I didn't have anything to do with Philosophy, I didn't have any knowledge of Weber's life, and I didn't have any experience dealing with the press. On the other hand, I didn't have tenure."
The Tinker Marks team does a first rate job of creating an enjoyable and witty mystery which plumbs the depths of the academic world. While Claire stumbles through the mess constantly created by her "adorable" partner, Emma, we find a touching love story mixed with the consternation of dealing with people who have been trained to focus on one thing...themselves. The plot thickens nicely, and the Marks team effectively lead the reader through a labyrinth.
Shelley Glodowski, Reviewer
Whereas the notion of following the shenanigans of a cadre of philosophers at an academic conference might seem dry to some readers, the charming but beleaguered narrator keeps the tone light and the perspective amusingly mundane. We are put at ease by her own admission of disinterest in the subject.
Theoretically Dead provides a refreshingly personal view of academic life. It peels away the academic stereotypes and presents individuals with distinguished professional careers and quirky insecurities. The characters are well drawn, and they linger in your mind.
The Midwestern college setting provides a rich sense of place that reminds me of A Cunning Man or The Rebel Angel by Robertson Davies. Tinker Marks is clearly at home on campus.
Like a good Miss Marple tale, this mystery snares the reader more out of curiosity than out of dramatic tension. I found myself taking off from work early to get back to the book. The crime's resolution was both surprising and satisfying. I was able to deduce the who of the whodunnit, as I usually do. I missed by a mile on the why. I wouldn't have it any other way.