Readers who enjoy cozy academic mysteries might take a shining to Sharon Dean’s THE WICKED BIBLE, the second in Dean’s Deborah Strong series. The classic-style whodunit charmed me with an autumnal college campus setting, an intriguing literary mystery, and historical connections to a late-19th Century world where women’s choices were few and men’s lives were deemed primarily important.
With its large cast of suspicious characters, tangled personal relationships, and many potential motives, THE WICKED BIBLE is somewhat reminiscent of classic Agatha Christie. I enjoyed the academic conference shenanigans and descriptions of quaint New Hampshire towns and scenery. The protagonist, Deborah Strong, is a no-nonsense, analytical amateur sleuth and small-town librarian, tenacious when she wants to solve a mystery, and a bit lonely and sad due to the long-ago, tragic death of her husband and three-year-old daughter.
Like many books penned in 2020-2021, the dollops of political-correctness were a smidge obvious and overdone. Dean’s writing style is clear and analytical, much like her protagonist, but lacks the emotion and playfulness with language that delights me in my favorite books. Overall, I loved the concept, the literary mystery, the archival searches, and historical clues. I’d like to see a little more feeling and a little less lecturing in future books, but I’ll keep reading the series for the intriguing plots, especially if there are more academic/literary mysteries in the works.