A Butterfly in Flame
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
Near Boston, the Stillton Academy has financial woes. However, a scandal also surfaces when instructor Morgan Flower and first year student Missy Tutunjian disappear apparently together from the North Shore art school; she of the bad romantic poetry happens to be the daughter of the largest donor at a time when money is tight and accreditation is critical and on the line.
Two school trustees Abe Baum and Parker Stillton visit art collector Clay Reed to ask for his help. He asks his employee private investigator Fred Taylor to find the runaways. Fred pretends to be Flower’s replacement at the academy so that he can work undercover. He talks with staff and students only to learn the one common theme is a universal loathing of President Liz Harmony. When Liz’s predecessor, Rodney Somerfest is found dead stark naked on a nearby beach, Fred interrogates the president who refuses to respond to his questions and the only famous alumni painter Basil Houel.
The latest Fred Taylor “animal” art mystery (see Madonna of the Apes and Man with a Squirrel) is a great entry as the sleuth works an art school disappearance and murder. The story line is fast-paced with a terrific twist. Fans of the series will enjoy Fred’s lectures as he seeks motives beyond inane poetry that would be subpar for bubblegum rock and roll.