Book Review #231

I read these books back when I was in High School and They are great. This is a review of all 7 books


Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published (first published October 31st 2006)
Original Title: Murder 101
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #1
Characters: Alison Bergeron, Bobby Crawford
Setting: Bronx, New York City, New York (United States)
New York (United States)

Alison Bergeron is living through a rough patch. Her lying and cheating husband is gone but not out of her life. Her car has been stolen, only to turn up with the body of a missing student in the trunk. She’s the number one suspect on the list and put under scrutiny from detective sexy. Alison is certainly living through a hellish rough patch.

This book is absolutely amazing. I love Alison and her shenanigans. She’s such a realistic protagonist that I wish she was real so that we could be friends. I really liked that she didn’t spend the entire book investigating. There was a little investigating, but not enough to make it seem like she was going to transform into an amateur sleuth. It was something different. I also love that the romance plot didn’t go overboard or take away from the characters as people. The characters are hilarious. I like banter that goes on between them throughout the book. Alison’s best friend Max is a ball. I hope we see more of her in the next installment. Not to sound lame, but I knew it was a good sign when Max was wearing my new go-to lipstick. There were a few slow patches but they ended pretty quickly.

Overall, I love this book


Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 27th 2007 by Minotaur Books
Original Title: Extracurricular Activities
ISBN: 0312355386 (ISBN13: 9780312355388)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #2
Characters: Alison Bergeron, Bobby Crawford
Setting: Bronx, New York City, New York (United States)

When we first met Alison Bergeron, she was the number one suspect in a college student’s murder. Not only did Alison have a past with the victim’s parents, her ex-husband had an affair with the student as well. Just clearing her name from one investigation, Alison soon finds herself involved with another murder. . . her ex-husband Ray. Ray’s death has Peter Miceli’s name written all over it, as his death was a signature Mob hit. As much as she despised Ray (after all he had numerous extra-martial affairs), Alison is stunned by his death and can’t help but to play amateur sleuth once again.

Finding Ray’s killer will also distract her from her on-again, off-again relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Bobby Crawford. Crawford has marital issues of his own: he’s legally separated from his wife, however he failed to mention this at the start of his relationship with Alison. It’s quite difficult for Alison to avoid Crawford because his partner is marrying Alison’s best friend, Max, and he is best man while Alison is maid of honor. And not to mention, with all of Alison’s snooping, she finds herself in situations that only a police officer can assist her with.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Alison is an amateur sleuth with good sense. The plot at times is funny, but not over the top. The author provides enough twists and turns that will make the reader wonder who really is the killer. After the killer’s identity is revealed, we learn why Ray was killed and how Alison is involved.

Alison’s character is one the reader can relate to: she’s hard working, trying to pick herself up after a bitter divorce while contemplating re-entering the dating scene. The reader will hope Bobby figures things out with his estranged wife before Alison moves on. The two definitely have chemistry and both deserve a second chance on love. If you’re looking for a good cozy mystery, I recommend this series.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Minotaur Books
Original Title: Quick Study: A Murder 101 Mystery
ISBN: 0312376758 (ISBN13: 9780312376758)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #3
Characters: Alison Bergeron, Bobby Crawford
Setting: Bronx, New York City, New York (United States)

Maggie Barbieri has added yet another fantastic mystery to the Mystery 101 series. Quick Study contained a great mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.

Alison Bergeron has a lot going on. It’s her birthday, the Rangers are in the playoffs, she is navigating her still new relationship with Detective Bobby Crawford, and trying to dodge a new admirer’s affection. Needless to say, she has no time for a murder or the sleuthing involved in solving it. Regardless, it’s the nephew of a new friend of hers, and she cant let it go. The body of Jose Escalante, nephew of Hernan Escalante, is found beaten to death in the river. The Escalante family are illegal immigrants, so Alison feels an obligation to snoop and make sure the police are doing everything in their power to solve the crime. Alison is a bit more daring in this novel. Jose was working on a construction site for a highly opposed, but huge money making, condo development. Luckily for Alison, her former paramour, Jack (brother to Father McManus), is buying one of said condos and knows the developer personally. He sets Alison up for an introduction. Meanwhile, Crawford is working the murder case and trying to keep Alison safe and out of trouble. Of course, his efforts don’t work in the slightest. Although Alison is getting threatening notes, she is still snooping around construction sites, running down clues, and generally turning up unwanted in police situations. As the case continues to go unsolved, Hernan comes up missing and an undercover federal agent is murdered. With the Fed’s in on the party, Alison is starting to feel the heat, and embarrassment for her blunders, but forges on. Between teaching, completing her community service hours (from her previous run-in with the state troopers), meeting Crawford’s twin girls, and searching for Hernan, Alison must piece together clues and observe the people close to her in order to stop a murderer and keep her friends out of danger.

I laughed so hard during this book. I loved it. I honestly couldn’t piece the mystery together, the romance between Alison and Crawford was nothing short of entertaining, and the comedy was top notch. It’s the ultimate book. When I’m laughing so hard I’m crying, I know I’ve found a winner. My only complaint, or rather irritation was that the dual POV’s (Alison’s and Crawford’s) was missing in this story. I loved that in Extracurricular Activities and was hoping for more as the series progressed. Also, for Alison just meeting Crawford’s daughters, it was a short scene. To me that is a big deal, especially with the little bit of animosity from one of the girls. I wish we would have gotten more of that, and generally more of Alison and Crawford together. My favorite scene, though, was the dinner party. Lol. Sounds like something I would do. Lastly, I was not expecting Max’s, Alison’s best friend, news at the end.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published December 8th 2009 by Minotaur Books
Original Title: Final Exam (A Murder 101 Mystery)
ISBN: 0312376774 (ISBN13: 9780312376772)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #4
Setting: Rockland County, New York (United States)

Alison Bergeron is hoping that she can get through the rest of the school year without becoming involved in another murder case (and hopefully get tenure if she can leave all the “trouble” behind). The Dean will do anything to keep Alison’s nose clean. When Wayne, the Resident Director of the boys dorm, goes missing the Dean makes Alison fill the position. Until either Wayne returns or the semester ends. She knows this is going to be a very long 5 weeks and struggles to make the most of it. While her boyfriend, Detective Bobby Crawford helps her move in, an exploding toilet reveals a packet of hidden heroin. Does the packet have anything to do with Wayne and his disappearance? Since Bobby is a homicide detective, he turns over the investigation to narcotics, while at the same time promising Alison he’ll do whatever he can – off the record – to help her figure out what is going on.

Alison is bound and determined to find out what happened to Wayne as fast as she can so that she can get out of the dorms and back home where she belongs. While doing some undercover work, she finds that Wayne’s mother has an uncanny resemblance to Sister Mary. Are they related? Does Sister Mary have something to do with Wayne’s disappearance? And could she possibly be hiding him in the convent??? It appears that Wayne may have been set up with the drugs, until a very large stash of marijuana is found in the floor of his room. Now Alsion understand why all the kids were asking where he was and letting her know how “cool” he is. There is one student who misses Wayne the most, Amanda. Amanda professes to be in love with Wayne, while at the same time being engaged to someone else. Could this be the reason for Wayne’s vanishing act???

Meanwhile, Alison has an unwanted house guest. Without giving away any surprising story lines ~ let’s just say that Alison has a very small bit inside her that is happy she’s having to stay in the dorm. How can she get this person out of her house? And more importantly how can she save the relationship before they kill each other? And will a shocking revelation be the answer to every one’s prayers?

This is definitely my favorite book in the series. The action moves along quickly while Alison seems to get herself into one bind after another. While she ever learn? I hope not, because that is what makes her so lovable. The characters are likable and believable, the romance sweet with enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing right up until the last 20 pages. And with an ending that will hopefully ring true.


Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published November 1st 2010)
ISBN: 0312593287 (ISBN13: 9780312593285)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #5

This is the fifth installment in her Murder 101 series, starring klutzy but well-meaning Alison Bergeron, English professor and amateur sleuth. Bergeron teaches at a small Catholic college in upstate New York, and is in love with NYPD homicide detective Bobby Crawford. Bobby is ready to tie the knot, but Alison has commitment (and maturity) issues. In “Third Degree,” Alison finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she stops at a local coffee shop imaginatively named “Beans, Beans.” She ends up in the middle of a nasty brawl between George Miller, the head of the Department of Public Works, and independently wealthy Carter Willmot, a “sleazy and one-sided” blogger who has nasty things to say about almost everyone in the village. Alison ends up with a black eye; Carter Willmot ends up dead.

Those who have followed Alison’s adventures from day one know that she is self-deprecating, crazy about her golden retriever, Trixie, tall (five foot ten), and has a loopy girlfriend named Max, producer of successful but inane reality shows. Alison owns a tiny house in Westchester from which she commutes to work. This time, Barbieri delves a bit more into our heroine’s background, explaining how the death of her mother, with whom she was very close, left her feeling lost. There is nothing like a juicy mystery to perk Alison up, however, and the truth concerning Willmot’s death turns out to be more complicated than it first appears.

“Third Degree” is another delightful confection from the talented Barbieri. Readers will go with the flow (even though the plot is daft), thanks to the witty dialogue, off-beat characters, and effortless writing style. As usual, Alison spends an inordinate amount of time sticking her nose into everyone else’s business. She speaks with the medical examiner, Carter’s wife, his mistress, and others who had reason to want Willmott dead. Although Bobby would prefer that Alison act like a normal fiancée, he is resigned to the fact that her curiosity and constant meddling will inevitably get her into trouble. Father Kevin, Alison’s close buddy and colleague, makes a brief appearance; he is having problems that may cost him his job.

The author includes a few sober themes to offset the lunacy, maintaining a nice balance between satire and seriousness. This original and extremely funny series remains as fresh and entertaining today as it was when Barbieri first introduced Alison in “Final Exam.”



Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 0312593295 (ISBN13: 9780312593292)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #6
Characters: Alison Bergeron, Bobby Crawford
Setting: Bronx, New York City, New York (United States)

College Professor Alison Bergeron is already running late when the campus security guard stops her to tell her that her car’s trunk is ajar. Unfortunately, it’s a dead body holding the trunk open… and this isn’t the first dead body to turn up in Alison’s trunk. Because Alison is involved, her cop-husband can’t take the case, but Alison knows the other cops on the case and, for the most part, she’s content to think she isn’t a suspect. Alison doesn’t mind doing a bit of amateur sleuthing, but she’d rather spend her time trying to track down who is destroying the reputation of her favorite priest than sorting out what looks like another mob murder.

Alison is still adjusting to life as a married woman, and one of the things she does is attend her step-daughter’s basketball games. Which doesn’t exactly make her a basketball expert, but when the team’s coach dies of a sudden heart attack, Alison is tasked to take over coaching the basketball team. Alison figures it’s just as well that she’s super-busy, because her husband Bobby Crawford’s schedule has suddenly taken a turn for the worse… and he’s coming home smelling of another woman’s perfume.

Author Maggie Barbieri deals with complicated situations (e.g., the Catholic Church’s swing toward anti-woman and anti-gay) in a breezy and enjoyable style. Watching Alison try to figure out how to coach a basketball team is also fun and I would have liked to see more of this side of the story. While there is a lot to like about PHYSICAL EDUCATION, for me the plot didn’t quite pull together. There is a connection between the murder setting the story into motion and Alison’s investigations, but the connection isn’t close and Alison’s work never really leads anywhere. Likewise, the basketball angle was not really convincing (surely the university could have found someone with a bit of basketball experience to take over the coaching), and the coincidence of the team being connected to her investigation of the priest was a bit hard to swallow.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION held my interest and kept me reading, but I really thought the story could have been improved


Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 1250001889 (ISBN13: 9781250001887)
Edition Language: English
Series: Murder 101 Mystery #7
College professor Alison Bergeron continues to fumblingly make her best attempt at being a good stepmother in the latest addition to her series, & that leads her to once again do her fumbling best at crime detection as her husband’s ex-in-laws get a whole lot more than they bargained for with the mysterious death of the family black sheep.
Alison doesn’t know what she’s letting herself in for when she reluctantly agrees to host a birthday party for twin stepdaughters Erin & Meaghan, but it’s a whole lot more than just the awkwardness to be expected from a roomful of your husband’s ex-wife’s family. The girls’ long-lost Uncle Chick turns up, which makes the party a whole lot more uncomfortable, especially when he mysteriously gives each girl a card containing several thousand dollars as a birthday present – then turns up dead in a dingy little apartment a few days later, on a mattress stuffed with $250,000 in cash. Just what has Chick been up to in the intervening years since he left the family fold? And was this a tragic suicide, or, as the girls’ mother fears, something much more sinister? Alison is on the case, if for no other reason than to get she & her husband disentangled from his ex’s family. But that’s taking up an awful lot of her time, which seems to be more than usually upsetting to Alison’s best friend.
A good mystery keeps the pages turning, & the characters continue to develop on their seventh outing. An enjoyable read.

Author: mccullum001

I'm a 27 year old, who really doesn't know what I want to do...I have the education, but nothing to show for it...Stay Tuned!!!

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