By Margot Kinberg
I loved reading B-Very Flat, which is a perfect 200-page mystery novel. The first half is an account of a group of students at Tilton University, scene of the author’s first novel, Publish or Perish. We are drawn into the lives of talented music student Serena, who is practicing hard for a violin contest, her partner Patricia, roommate Tessa, cousin Troy, creepy photographer Tony, stressed-out 'dorm supervisor' Marcie, the brilliant Michelle, and others. As the first 100 pages flew by, I became absorbed in the activities of these young men and women - and although I had a pretty good idea of who was going to be murdered, I kept telling myself that I was mistaken and that the victim would turn out to be someone else, as I’d become so involved in her concerns and ambitions.
Then the murder occurs, and the second 100 pages describe the investigation. Part of this is shown through the eyes of Joel Williams, a criminal justice processor at Tilton (whom we met in the previous novel). Joel was a policeman before he retired to become a teacher, so he is uniquely placed to help in solving the crime via his knowledge of the students and the university, and via his knowledge of the police department and some of its staff. Gradually, the police become convinced that they are investigating a murder, not an accident or suicide, and they slowly converge on the person responsible, with Joel's help.
The author has a lovely light writing style while at the same time conveying the sadness of the story she’s telling. The pace of the book never falters, and in particular the author’s identification of the concerns and feelings of young adults is remarkable. I highly recommend this book, which I am sure will rank highly among my favourite reads of the year. I discovered Margot Kinberg’s books via her excellent blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, and I am very glad I did. I can’t wait for the next.