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The Northbury Papers

Joanne Dobson

349 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0553576615 / ISBN 13: 9780553576610
Published by Bantam, 1998
Used Condition: Fair
From Better World Books (Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.)

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Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP3117139

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Northbury Papers

Publisher: Bantam

Publication Date: 1998

Book Condition:Fair

Edition: Bantam Mass Market Ed.

About this title


Teaching American women's literature at New England's prestigious Enfield College has shown Karen Pelletier just how cutthroat the world of academe can be. But nothing in her tenure has prepared her for the perils to come, as this bastion of higher learning throws open its doors to a cleverly calculating killer.

A battered copy of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre leads Professor Karen Pelletier to the long-forgotten novels of an obscure writer named Serena Northbury. When she decides to pen the author's biography, she sets off a raging controversy. Everyone, from her esteemed colleagues to her tyrannical department head, regards Northbury's nineteenth-century writings as trash. But when the intrepid researcher stumbles upon a treasure trove of Northbury's papers--including what looks very much like an unpublished novel--Karen knows she cannot quit, for what could be more thrilling?

Unfortunately, someone takes exception to Karen's penchant for digging up the past. Before long, she is the unlikely suspect in a homicide--and the target of an erudite killer who is poised to kill again.


Asked why she is fascinated by the "popular" (read "trashy") novels of 19th-century writer Serena Northbury, Professor Karen Pelletier says, "She's the only novelist I know from that era who writes about the kind of courage it takes to get through life day by day. No white whales. No uncharted forests. No scarlet letters. No great heroics at all. Just food and drink and perseverance. And ordinary kindness. And ordinary love." Then, to herself, she thinks, "A totally banal literary exegesis. If anyone in the English Department at Enfield heard it, I'd be drummed out of the profession." Serena Northbury doesn't exist: as Joanne Dobson tells us in an afterword, she's based on a novelist named Emma Southworth and also on Jo March, Louisa May Alcott's alter ego in Little Women. Karen Pelletier isn't real, either, but this second book about her (after Quieter Than Sleep) continues to make her one of the most interesting characters in recent crime fiction. Carpers might say that certain plot twists point to trouble down the road: both books are about missing old manuscripts; both have female scholarship students being sexually harassed by rich and/or powerful men; both find people Karen knows being murdered. As the increasingly attractive local cop, Lieutenant Piotrowski, says, "It's not that I don't appreciate your help. We coulda never unraveled this without you. But why does it always have to come to gunplay? Huh, Doctor? Can you tell me that? A nice quiet teacher like yourself: Why do you always end up facing a gun?" Well, lieutenant, it worked for Jessica Fletcher... --Dick Adler

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