Preston Barclay has simple wants. He wants to go on teaching history, to be left alone to grieve the loss of his pianist wife and, somehow, to cope with the musical hallucinations that have plagued him since her death. Unfortunately, stumbling across the dead body of a colleague tends to complicate things.The woman who was with him at the time of the discovery, Mara Thorn, is a headstrong Wiccan professor of comparative religions, brought in as part of the "Christian" university's inclusiveness campaign. The chief of homicide, Press's old enemy from their army days, immediately tries to prove Press and Mara guilty, and the evidence does seem to point that way. Jointly accused, Mara and Press team up to find the murderer before the police can build a case to convict them. Can this ill-matched pair prevail against the police, the murderer, and- even worse-the college administration? And what might they learn about themselves along the way?
Average Customer Rating:
(8 Reviews) 8
Rating Snapshot(8 reviews)
Customer Reviews for Rhapsody in Red
Review 1 for Rhapsody in Red
Date:May 12, 2009
Cathy Elliott (www.cathyelliottbooks.com)
Donn Taylor's debut cozy, Rhapsody in Red, is a mystery "to die for" (please excuse the cliche). Preston Barclay, history professor, is an engaging character with all too human traits and a daily life accentuated with unexpected musical hallucinations. The curious combination tickled this reader's funny bone, keeping me entertained and flipping the pages. Taylor's myriad skills as a writer were front and center along with his amazing ability to spin a story. I didn't know "who done it" until the murder was revealed by the professor himself. Also enjoyable was the interaction between the protagonist and professor Mara Thorn, who played a reluctant Dr. Watson to Barclay's Holmes.Overall, an expertly woven yarn that delights on every page. Don't miss it! Rhapsody in Red is delicious.
What happens when a widowed history professor and a man-shy religious studies professor walk into a colleague's office and find her dead? You will discover a true mystery when you read Donn Taylor's new book, Rhapsody in Red. Preston Barclay has built a reclusive life for himself. His simple days of teaching history, going home quietly, and listening to the musical hallucinations in his head end the moment Mara Thorn walks into his office seeking help. They discover the body of a fellow teacher and suddenly find themselves the prime in her murder. Mara and Preston bend a few rules and start their own investigation into the murder. Mara's lack of trust for men and Preston's distancing from women creates a tension that, in itself, complicates their search. The cast of characters all seem to have unusual connections with the dead professor and as Mara and Preston uncover the mysteries, it pushes them further from a solution.Donn Taylor wrote an intriguing mystery. His skill with the whodunit kept me going back and forth with my own thoughts on who I thought it was. The music Preston's mind assigned to each of the people and situations he faced created a most interesting backdrop in the book. I could almost hear the background music whenever the Dean entered a page. This book is a fun read and a good mystery. I look forward to reading more of Donn's books.
History professor, Preston Barkley is minding his own business when fellow Professor Mara Thorn asks for his help in confronting a colleague, Laila Stone. Press is not at all eager to help Mara, but reluctantly agrees. He and Mara make the trek to Lailas office, only to discover shed been murdered. This could be the end of the story, a simple newspaper headline, Two Professors Find Murdered Colleague. Fortunately for the reader, author Donn Taylor brings onto the stage Clyde Staggart, the one man Press hoped never to see again. Earlier in life and while serving in the military, Press had reported Staggarts nefarious activities. Suffice it to say, Staggart does not consider Press a long lost friend and as the local homicide captain, Staggart has the perfect opportunity to retaliate by setting Press up as the fall guy for the murder. To keep out of jail, Press and Mara form an unlikely pact to ferret out the real killer, beginning with a list of fellow professors who might have cause to end Lailas life. Rhapsody in Red is based on a basic mystery plot, and before reading it, you could easily chalk it up as another run of the mill mystery. But the author doesnt let that thought enter your head as you read. His main character is so well defined, well-written, and fleshed out that you have to read every page just because youre enjoying the character. Press is a professor through and through. He has a delightful sense of humor and an eccentric quirk that makes him even more memorable. Yes, he has musical hallucinations, haunting melodies play in a variety of instrumentations in his head, and the music defines the situation hes in. Rhapsody in Red isn't a race through, fast moving mystery that the reader flips pages to find out what happens to the protagonist. True, the mystery is there and Press solves it, but this novel is character driven with a character that is so compelling and fun to journey with that you won't stop reading until the book ends.
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Review 4 for Rhapsody in Red
Date:November 29, 2008
Donn Taylor demonstrates a unique voice among the writers of Christian mysteries. He writes in the first person (and does it well) and has created an engaging, quirky, likable protagonist in Professor Preston Barclay. The puns are sometimes a bit too cutesy, and the dialogue a little too erudite and filled with insider literary references, but the action moves along and the ending--in distinction to many such novels--is unexpected and satisfying. The religious references are understated but clear. They don't hit the reader over the head, nor are they saccharin-sweet, but the message gets through.
Donn Taylor's delightful sense of humor flows onto the pages of Rhapsody in Red. He's taken one reclusive professor, coerced him into playing mediator between two fellow educators, and then accused him of murdering one of them. Add to that a philharmonic orchestra performing in this professor's head. Then top it all off with a few masterful plot twists, and you've got one of the most memorable characters we've seen this year. I give it a high recommendation.
By the end of chapter one, a dead body is discovered, a possibility exists for romance, and I've chuckled aloud! What a terrific beginning. The descriptive wording is a delightful change from the clichs of most novels; with allusions sprinkled throughout, English majors are bound to love this one!Music lovers will appreciate the musical theme playing as pages are turned. Musical terminology and titles of music are referred to as Press goes about investigating the murder. He has musical hallucinations--uncontrollable music-like sounds inside his brain that sometimes makes clear-thinking difficult.The major characters are both flawed. In addition to his internal music, Press is mourning the death of his wife, struggling to hang on to his university teaching schedule, and his colleague, Mara, a Wiccan, does not tolerate touching or "coloring outside the box." I liked both Press and Mara and look forward to meeting them again in a future work. If you like whodunits, this one's for you.
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Review 7 for Rhapsody in Red
Date:October 8, 2008
A.K. Arenz, Case of the Bouncing Grandma
Professor Preston Barclay has been stuck in a self-imposed rut since his wife died three years before, but all that is about to change. When fellow Professor Mara Thorn asks his help with another faculty member, and they discover that individuals body, neither of their lives will ever be the same.This is a fast-paced, witty, multi-dimensional mystery that will keep you glued to till the very end!
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Review 8 for Rhapsody in Red
Date:September 12, 2008
Donn Taylors Rhapsody in Red is a mystery filled with suspense and laced with humor. The protagonist, Preston Barclay, is a history professor at a small college that has morphed from a Christian institution to a secular one in order to draw more students. Press Barclays wry comments on college faculty infighting will bring a smile to the readers lips even as theyre racing through the story. An additional twist that drew me in was the introduction of the secondary character, Mara Thorn, as the Wiccan head of the department of religious studies. Press and Mara have the misfortune to discover the murdered body of a dead colleague, and the further misfortune of being the primary suspects of the crime. The story takes off at a run from that point, and doesnt slow down until the surprising conclusion. Donn Taylor added several dimensions to this novel, which in my opinion, raise it above the average mystery. His protagonist, Press Barclay, suffers from musical hallucinations, so many scenes are enlivened by Barclays description of the melodies that are haunting his mind. Taylor cleverly sets the mood for much of the action in Rhapsody in Red by describing the instruments playing in Presss head. Further, Taylors droll sense of humor, especially when directed at the faculty of the university where his protagonist is employed, will cause the reader to snicker even while his heart pounds with the suspense that Taylor so adroitly weaves into each chapter.Rhapsody in Red rates high on my recommended list.