Experiment One: Murder in the Lab

Anne Morin

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 219 Price: (paperback) $15.95 ISBN: 9781491784983 Reviewed: April, 2016 Author Website: Visit »

In this contemporary cozy mystery set in California, a professor of neuroscience finds one of her graduate students bludgeoned to death on the floor of her campus office.

After being questioned by the detective assigned to the case, Dr. Yvette Bilodeau is intrigued by the investigative process and begins to unearth scientific aspects of the crime that might not normally occur to the police. Bilodeau’s lab is working to discover a way to heal injured spinal cords. Who would be likely to steal vials and samples from her lab? And who would kill for that data? Or did the womanizing victim simply fall prey to a woman scorned? The detective and Bilodeau are each formidable sleuths in what becomes their joint investigation of not one, but two murders, when another of the professor’s students is found dead of a most unnatural cause.

This novel is nicely plotted, well paced, and intelligently written, and the author—a neuroscientist herself—manages to make Bilodeau a credible, likable character, within limited parameters. But cozy mysteries typically include interesting details about the amateur sleuth’s day-to-day life — details that are missing here. For example, Bilodeau is a widow, yet she offers no reminiscences of life with her husband.  She also has no stated hobbies, and her life, apart from her work, seems sterile and uninteresting. More personal details would have made for a fuller character and a richer reading experience.

Near the story’s end, the author also throws readers a red herring and a brand new shallow character in what feels like a setup for Experiment Two. What had previously been a fairly straightforward read is diminished by this ploy. The book also includes a number typographical errors.

The author delivers an amateur sleuth with an intriguing profession—an important element in a cozy mystery. Readers will find this an appealing aspect to the book, even as they might ultimately wish for more from this story.

Also available as an ebook.

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