It’s December in Copper Bluff, and from hillside to hallowed hall, everyone is merry—or will be as soon as semester break arrives. Students are studying, professors are grading, and Emmeline Prather is anticipating the university-sponsored holiday concert. Friend and colleague Lenny Jenkins will be accompanying the visiting quartet, Jazz Underground, and Em can’t think of a better way to kick-start the holiday season.
But before she can say “Jingle Bell Rock,” trouble arrives at Candlelight Inn, the bed and breakfast where the quartet is staying. One of the band members dies unexpectedly, and suspicion falls on Em, whose altercation with the man ends with him on the floor. He never recovers, and now she’s worried her reputation might not either. When Emmeline starts to see parallels between an Agatha Christie novel she’s teaching and the victim, Lenny claims she’s read one too many mysteries.
As the clues unravel, so does the murderer’s patience. Em is close to finding the truth, but will the truth—or the murderer—push her over the edge? It will take a Christmas miracle to solve this case, but if there’s one thing in surplus this time of year, it’s faith.
Dr. Prather, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Emmeline Prather (you can call me Em). I’m an English Professor in the small town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota. I know what you’re thinking—South Dakota? I had the same thought when I moved here from Detroit. Now I couldn’t imagine teaching anywhere else. I live in an adorable bungalow on Oxford Street with my cat Dickinson, named after the great poetess Emily Dickinson. I enjoy the company of my neighbor Mrs. Gunderson, whom I grow fonder of every day (or every day she bakes Christmas cookies). And I trust the advice of my dependable department chair, Jim Giles, who is confident I could increase my paper grading speed if I just stopped hanging around Lenny Jenkins.
Readers might be surprised to learn I’ve had my fair share of classroom struggles. My kickboxing class, for instance, was a complete disaster. After accidentally hitting my instructor in the face, I was asked not to return. She said I was a danger to the rest of the participants. Who knew a professor could be expelled?
So who is this Lenny Jenkins who’s slowing down your grading?
He’s an American literature professor, a Beatles fan, and most importantly, a hardcore coffee drinker like me. We’ve been known to drink an entire pot between classes. Lenny never minds that our late night homework usually involves solving a murder. Then again, his assignments aren’t as rigorous as mine, and he has more time on his hands. But maybe that’s why I like him best. He’s the calm to my storm. I love his unique perspective.
Copper Bluff sounds almost too good to be true. There must be a fly in the ointment somewhere…
Jane Lemort. Even her name reminds me of death, mort being the French word for dead. She’s a medieval scholar on campus and incredibly pretentious. I wish I could admire her scholarly acumen, because she is smart, but her conceit makes it difficult—as does her over participation in academic committees.
Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?
Well, I like her, but I do question her time management skills. With her kids and teaching and writing, she doesn’t have enough time for her multitude of interests. I told her to put off the ancestry research one year at least, but a new online newspaper has become available in her area, so who am I to stop her?
What’s next for you?
William Shakespeare’s first folio (his first collection of published plays) is coming to campus next spring, and though I’m no Anglophile, I appreciate a good book when I see one. Lots of activities are planned around its arrival, including a sonnet writing contest and the reopening of Shakespeare’s Garden. Honeysuckle, daisies, and daffodils have been planted in anticipation. Hopefully everything comes up roses—not murder!
About The Author
Like her protagonist in the Professor Prather mystery series, Mary Angela lives on the Great Plains and teaches college writing and literature. When she’s not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two amazing daughters, one adorable dog, and a cat who would rather not be limited by an adjective. For more information, go to www.maryangelabooks.com.