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Murdering Americans

by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Series: Robert Amiss (11)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
913302,876 (2.69)4
""Academia (n.): a profession filled with bad food, knee-jerk liberalism, and murder... Being a member of the House of Lords and Mistress of St Marthas College in Cambridge might seem enough to keep anyone busy, but Baroness (Jack) Troutbeck likes new challenges. When a combination of weddings, work, and spookery deprives her of five of her closest allies, she leaps at an invitation to become a Distinguished Visiting Professor on an American campus. With her head full of romantic fantasies inspired by 1950s Hollywood, and accompanied by Horace, her loquacious and disconcerting parrot, this intellectually-rigorous right-winger sets off from England blissfully unaware that academia in the United States is dominated by knee-jerk liberalism, contempt for Western civilization, and the institutionalisation of a form of insane political-correctness. Will the bonne viveuse Baroness Troutbeck be able to cope with the culinary and vinous desert that is New Paddington, Indiana? Can this insensitive and tactless human battering-ram defeat the thought-police who run Freeman State University like a gulag? Does she believe the late Provost was murdered? If so, what should she do about it? And will she manage to persuade Robert Amisswho describes himself bitterly as Watson to her Holmes and Goodwin to her Nero Wolfeto abandon his honeymoon and fly to her side?… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
I honestly couldn't believe that such feeble reactionary nonsense wouldn't include a surprise twist, but about half-way through I got so tired of it that I gave up. The author sets up straw-feminists and
-liberals so caricatured that even the Daily Express would be embarrassed to use them! It's possible that the author intended the protagonist to be seen as "charmingly eccentric" instead of arrogant, bigoted, right-wing and selfish - if so, she failed. ( )
  SChant | Apr 27, 2013 |
Amusing book found by R from a radio recommendation, though we both recoiled slightly when reading the back-cover blurb which proudly proclaims the main character's right-wing bent and satirical target of political correctness. In the end, it provided quite a few chuckles and outright laughs at the expense of the cultural and gastronomic wasteland that lies in certain parts of the US, as well as digs at the dumbing-down madness in parts of US academia. ( )
  comixminx | Apr 5, 2013 |
Ruth Dudley Edwards is a historian, journalist, and biographer, born in Ireland and now living in London, who began writing mystery fiction in 1981. Murdering Americans is her eleventh crime novel. Her detective here is the rightwing Lady Troutbeck , a member of the House of Lords by virtue of her title and also the head of St. Martha’s College in Cambridge ( a wholly fictional college, by the way). Ida, Lady Troutbeck, who insists on being called Jack, is a Margaret Thatcher Conservative, and the trouble starts when she accepts an invitation to teach at an American college. Jack descends on Freeman University in Indiana as a distinguished faculty visitor, and discovers a corrupt president and a violently repressive provost who, under the aegis of diversity, imposes a tyrannical political correctness. Political correctness is Jack’s meat; she likes nothing better than to do battle with it, always from her own particular political perspective. We might almost expect we were dealing with a political tract here, except Jack’s politics and methods are so over-the-top. Also the book is funny in taking its shots at liberalism. We know how seriously to take things from the beginning, when Jack is detained by security at the airport because of something that her parrot said.
Also, of course, there is something for Jack to investigate. The former provost died under mysterious circumstances. Students are beaten up or expelled if they try to demand that teachers teach. Jack mounts a revolution of dissatisfied students on Founder’s Day and all turns out well. She doesn’t really solve the crime, but she happens to have her pistol with her (illegal, of course) and she shoots the boy who presumably murdered the provost and her goon, when the boy tries to kill someone else at the Founder’s Day activities.
Before this dénouement, though, Jack has to try to make the culinary desert of New Paddington, Indiana livable. She enlists the aid of a willing student to help with this task, but when she tries to hire other students to help her investigation of the college administration, the students meet with a mysterious accident. Jack is up to the challenge, though, and brings in her own help in the form of her young friend Robert Amiss, who is the detective in some of Edwards’s earlier books.
If your politics match those of Edwards’s Jack Troutbeck, you’ll enjoy this book. And if you’re of a more liberal persuasion but can laugh at liberalism’s excesses, you may like it, too. The trick here is to disregard the book’s not so subtle, Coulterish implication that liberalism itself is the problem, leading to repressive and violent behavior. ( )
  michaelm42071 | Sep 4, 2009 |
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"What in hell's going on here, Helen?" shouted Martin Freeman down the phone to the Provost.
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""Academia (n.): a profession filled with bad food, knee-jerk liberalism, and murder... Being a member of the House of Lords and Mistress of St Marthas College in Cambridge might seem enough to keep anyone busy, but Baroness (Jack) Troutbeck likes new challenges. When a combination of weddings, work, and spookery deprives her of five of her closest allies, she leaps at an invitation to become a Distinguished Visiting Professor on an American campus. With her head full of romantic fantasies inspired by 1950s Hollywood, and accompanied by Horace, her loquacious and disconcerting parrot, this intellectually-rigorous right-winger sets off from England blissfully unaware that academia in the United States is dominated by knee-jerk liberalism, contempt for Western civilization, and the institutionalisation of a form of insane political-correctness. Will the bonne viveuse Baroness Troutbeck be able to cope with the culinary and vinous desert that is New Paddington, Indiana? Can this insensitive and tactless human battering-ram defeat the thought-police who run Freeman State University like a gulag? Does she believe the late Provost was murdered? If so, what should she do about it? And will she manage to persuade Robert Amisswho describes himself bitterly as Watson to her Holmes and Goodwin to her Nero Wolfeto abandon his honeymoon and fly to her side?

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