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A Slow Cold Death by Susy Gage

A Slow Cold Death (edition 2012)

by Susy Gage

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149683,257 (2.5)2
Title:A Slow Cold Death
Authors:Susy Gage
Info:Bitingduck Press (2012), Paperback, 258 pages
Collections:E-Books, Read
Tags:read, e-book, fiction, murder, academia, physicists, Early Reviewers

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A Slow Cold Death by Susy Gage



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I love a good mystery set in Academia. The setting is so cozy that it always seems just ripe for a little murder or two and author Susy Gage's description of the academic life in A Slow Cold Death doesn't disappoint. It is chock-a-block with department jealousies and snark, jockeying for tenured positions, department politics, and all-out wars for lucrative grants.

However, much of the rest of the book was a bit disappointing. Lori Barrow has just returned to the Physics Department at her Alma Mater in Pasadena after a stint in Montreal which, judging from its description in this book, is somewhere in the Arctic Circle. The department is dying for lack of grant money and it is hoped that Lori can bring it back to life. When one of her grad students is found frozen to death in a 'cold room', Lori is convinced that politics are behind the death and soon she is embroiled, not only in the battle for money, but in the race to discover the murderer before the entire department is dead, not only financially but literally.

This all sounds much more exciting than it was and therein lies the problem. The book should have been much more engrossing. The pace is so slow at the beginning that it could be called frigid (ha, a pun on the title if you will) with long and wacky (and not in a good way) descriptions of people riding 'go-tards which I believe are golf carts but don't quote me on that and a lot of other collegial ephemera which would probably only appeal to people who actually work in Physics Departments in universities in Pasadena.

However, once you get past the first half of the book, the pace picks up and the story becomes much more interesting. Still, even at its most thrilling, it seemed more a novel about life in academia than a high octane or even a solar-powered thriller. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate the book, I actually enjoyed the foray into the world of higher education and author Susy Gage really knows how to bring this world to life. I just didn't find the mystery all that compelling. My recommendation: if you are interested in the world of academia and like a good math joke, you will probably enjoy this book but if you are looking for a thriller with lots of heart-pounding twists and turns, you might want to give this one a pass. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Jul 26, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A mystery set in an academic research facility and based around the general bitchiness of academia. I enjoyed this book although I thought the plot got unnecessarily bogged down toward the end.
  gimboid13 | Jun 8, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The cover of A SLOW COLD DEATH is an interesting choice, since the entirety of the story takes place in Pasadena. But since our hero, Lori Barrow, has fled Canada ("The only safe month in Montreal was July, and it was all alone, a sad pitiful little month standing up to eleven cruel others.") for a tenure-track position at "Superior Technical Institute" (I think we all know which university this is based on), it's oddly appropriate. Cold makes an appearance in several ways, actually, beyond the death of a researcher in a "cold room." Lori's ex-girlfriend dumped her rather than live in frigid Canada, Lori's research involves ice core analysis, and of course, a "slow cold death" is a theory for the potential end of the universe, appropriate in a novel in which physics has center stage.

Lori was just a child when she graduated from STI, and now she's returning as an assistant professor. Two of her former graduate school friends have preceded her to LA; Abby McRae, who abandoned grad school to become a lawyer, and Carol, who works at the LPR Lab (also called the LEPERLab). Lori has a reputation for being around death, so it's not that surprising when a grad student who is forced on her ends up dead, locked in the cold room. Lori is convinced that politics are behind the murder, especially when bodies begin piling up. And the politics are a minefield, giving us plenty of suspects.

I found this novel a delight to read! Besides the intricate mystery and the suspense of having a killer loose in the physics department, the process of competing for a multi-million-dollar grant is a surprising nail-biter. I've never been so on edge when reading about professors trying to get the department head's signature before FedEx closes. There are plenty of red herrings, high-speed chases, and double-crosses to keep the pages turning, and Lori is a fun character.

Recommended to any mystery fan with experience with acadamia.

Source disclosure: I received an advance copy from the publisher. ( )
  noranydrop2read | Feb 8, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The novel is about a mystery at a university...in California in the present day. I suppose that there might be interest here for graduate students at or graduates of such an institution, but i find it difficult to think that there is any for people who do not fall into either of those rather limited categories. Buried, somewhere, deep within the book, is a good mystery plot, i'm quite sure, begging to be dug out and told; unfortunately, this is not the book which told that story effectively....Indeed, having finished the book, i would be hard pressed to actually define the mystery, count the murders ~ or deaths, not even sure if they're the same thing ~ or retell the main events. Some of the characters do have their own personalities, but they are not attractive to read about, and the traits given them do not always make sense within the purposes of the narration...Overall, and in the end, by my sole criterion this novel is not a success ~ i will not read another book based simply on the fact that it has the name Susy Gage on the spine. This is unfortunate as i really believe that she could probably write very well, and i might then miss out. The difficulties of "A Slow Cold Death", however, have been too great. If this is her first published novel, as i suspect, her editor or publisher did not do her any favours in letting it be; she would have been better served had they said, “Susy, you have great potential; now put this to one side, and go write your second book”....Read the whole (painful) review at http://rhydypennau.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/brrrrrr.html ( )
  ElSee | Feb 6, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Superstar physicist Lori Barrow returns to her undergraduate institution as a professor, only to find herself up to her neck in mysteries and politics. Not to mention people keep turning up dead. Lori enlists new colleagues and old in her attempts to save the department and all of their lives.

For nerdiness, I'd give it 4 stars, with quite a few funny math/physics jokes tossed around. Aside from that, it's a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller, with a weak back story for Lori and others, and tension that never really came to an interesting head or conclusion. With some good input and editing, this could have been an interesting story and told much more compellingly. ( )
1 vote heidialice | Jan 10, 2013 |
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