Death by Dissertation


Cassandra Sato, VP for Student Affairs at Morton College in Carson, Nebraska, is worried about the permanency of her position. Leaving Hawaii may not have been such a great idea after all. Campus security finds a dead male student outside the biology lab, and Cassandra is plunged into what turns out to be a murder investigation. A large pharmaceutical company is a substantial donor, and the university does not want to lose its support. The investigation drags Cassandra deeper into the university’s inner workings and what might be a falsified cancer research program. Her house is broken into twice, and she begins to fear for her safety. Someone is clearly telling her to back off. This substantially raises the stakes for everybody. Instead of unravelling a mystery, she is suspended, but she has one last chance to reveal the truth.

“Death by Dissertation” is an outstanding foray into university campus politics! Unravelling a complex murder mystery, supported by utterly believable characters, Kelly Brakenhoff weaves an eminently readable story filled with superlative narrative and dialogue. Cassandra Sako, young, thrust into a very senior administrative role, trying to establish her authority with some prickly colleagues, meets every challenge that comes her way. She would have floundered more than once were it not for help from a friend. From the first page, readers will be assured they have before them a book crafted by a professional that does not disappoint. Lovers of who whodunit stories will love “Death by Dissertation.” 

Paul Brennan