PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR MYSTERY
Dulcie Schwartz is a doctoral candidate at Harvard. Getting her advisor, Professor Bullock, to approve her thesis concept on the gothic novel The Ravages of Umbria and its author is overwhelming this third year grad student. After meeting with her advisor at his home, Dulcie finds fellow grad student Cameron Dessay lying on the front steps of her advisor's home. Although she didn't like him, she never wished him dead. Dulcie plans to stay out of this murder investigation. Her best friend is busy and Dulcie's boyfriend is working lots of late hours. She hits a snag in her thesis and ends up caught up and alone in investigating the murder. The ghost of her dead cat, Mr. Grey, offers wisdom and direction. Can Dulcie find the murderer and figure out her thesis? I liked Dulcie and the setting a lot. The mystery was well plotted and the writing kept my interest throughout. This is a quick reading cozy mystery for cat lovers. I recommend it!
In the second Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery Clea Simon begins with Dulcie talking with her new black and white kitten. Still mourning the lost of her adult can, Mr. Grey, Dulcie is reluctantly attempting to build a relationship with the still unnamed kitten.
Later in the afternoon upon leaving an unsatisfactory progress meeting with her adviser, Professor Bullock, Dulcie discovers the body of a fellow grad student just outside of the professor's house. Somewhat dazed and in shock she feels a cat brush against her ankles, leaning into her leg, but there was no cat was to be seen. Mr. Grey had come to comfort her.
Back at home Suze, Dulcie's roommate, tactfully skirts the topic of Dulcie seeing the ghost of her dead cat. Dulcie's boyfriend, Chris, has his doubts as well and seems lately to be working much more than usual. Dulcie's work load increases as she acquires one of the murdered grad student's cases. Her office mate becomes evasive, a menacing book binder, who seems to be everywhere, teamed with her mother's vague premonitions shared from the west coast take Dulcie to the murderer and the end of the story.
Clea Simon is an eloquent story teller. The story flows evenly toward it's climax with insight to Dulcie's beliefs. Each character is distinctly unique and the interaction between the characters gives the feeling of the relationships, good and bad, involving grad students while giving the reader a glimpse into their world. Mr. Grey adds a touch of humor and comfort to this book with a patience and wisdom expected of any cat.
This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-written story with a Gothic touch, engaging characters, and most of all cats.
Back-stabbing, jealousy and gamesmanship. Is it corporate America? Or could it be academia? In Grey Matters, the second installment in Clea Simon's series featuring Harvard grad student Dulcie Schwartz, it's definitely the latter.
This time out, Dulcie is continuing to research her thesis, a study of an obscure Gothic novel of the 18th century whose author is unknown -- and whose identity Dulcie is trying to discover. But after a meeting with the professor who's her faculty adviser, she stumbles over the body of a fellow grad student outside the adviser's posh house.
Dulcie soon realizes that something is wrong inside that house, and it may be connected to her adviser, or two of his assistants, one of whom also serves as a semi-housekeeper, or a dealer and repairer of old books. Meanwhile, Dulcie believes she's getting hints and warnings from her late, beloved cat, Mr. Grey, and she's having a hard time bonding with her new kitten.
With skill and style, Simon fashions a true whodunit, a look inside the cutthroat academic world and an homage to the pets we've lost but who remain forever in our hearts. It's a tricky trifecta, but Simon makes the leap with catlike grace.
Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Feb. 28, 2010
Simon’s second Dulcie Schwartz mystery picks up a few months after the end of Shades of Grey (2009), with Harvard doctoral student Dulcie deep into her fall semester, overloaded with grading papers and concerned about getting her adviser’s approval on her thesis. Then she finds the body of a fellow graduate student on her adviser’s front step. The ghost of Mr. Grey, her deceased cat, returns to offer his usual cryptic advice, and her new kitten takes a noncommittal stance toward crime-solving, leaving Dulcie on her own to try and find the real murderer before the killer finds her. While the cats are an important part of the book, they are not an overwhelming presence, in fact, the academic setting is a much stronger part of the novel’s appeal, making this easily recommendable to readers who enjoy Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series or Jennifer Lee Carrel’s literary thriller Interred with Their Bones (2007), which also has significant scenes set in Harvard’s Widener Library. A solid follow-up to an entertaining debut.
Booklist, March 1, 2010
I had been eagerly anticipating the release of Grey Matters from the moment I finished Shades of Grey, which was the first book in Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz series. Grey Matters picks up a few months after the end of Shades of Grey (click here to read my review of Shades of Grey). Dulcie is a doctoral student at Harvard university who is fascinated with 18th century Gothic novels. She is deeply immersed in the fall semester, hard at work on her thesis, and frustrated with her thesis advisor, who seems distracted and uninterested in her work. When she finds the body of a fellow graduate student on her advisor’s doorstep, her life gets even more complicated.
Her best friend is busy with her own studies and a new man in her life, Dulcie’s boyfriend is working long hours and seems to be withdrawn and distracted, she hits a significant snag in her thesis, and finds herself on her own as she gets caught up in investigating the murder. The ghost of Mr. Grey, her beloved deceased cat, returns to offer his wise and comforting, but often veiled and cryptic advice. Dulcie’s new kitten is trying her best to make her way into Dulcie’s heart, but since she doesn’t “speak” to Dulcie in the same way as Mr. Grey’s ghost, it’s slow going on that front.
Immensely likeable and multi-dimensional characters, exceptional plotting, and a fascinating academic setting make this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read. The cats are an important part of the book. Unlike other cat-themed mysteries, they do not help with solving the crime, but rather, are an integral part of the story. I absolutely loved the ending of this book.
A real treat for cat lovers and mystery lovers alike!
Ingrid King, ConsciousCat.net, Feb. 26, 2010