The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison.*
Math scares a lot of people. Mathematics professor Dr. Sophie Knowles, protagonist of this new mystery series, reminds me of my very first high school math teacher (whose name, sadly, I forget) who made algebra and geometry fun for me. Sophie teaches math at Henley College in the fictional town of Henley, MA, and tries very hard to make it enjoyable.
Her assistant, Rachel Wheeler, who is hoping to get into medical school, is a student who has become a friend. But Rachel needs to pass chemistry first, and the chemistry professor Dr. Keith Appleton is not making it easy for her. Appleton makes life difficult for most people at Henley College, including Sophie, although she does her best to get along with him.
One afternoon while celebrating the promotion of another colleague, Hal Bartholomew, from instructor to assistant professor, Rachel and other members of the department are expressing pleasure that Keith Appleton is not in attendance. Upset by their unprofessional behavior, Sophie chastises them, and in apology, Rachel offers to take some cake to the chemistry professor.
At home later that evening, Sophie receives a phone call from Rachel, who has been at the police station answering questions about the death of Dr. Appleton. Since Rachel was probably the last to see him alive, Sophie is certain that the police will focus on her assistant as the killer. Even more certain that Rachel is innocent, Sophie has to find a way to convince the authorities of it.
Ada Madison is a pseudonym for Camille Minichino, author of The Periodic Table Mysteries, a series of eight books featuring Gloria Lamerino, a retired professor of physics. As a faculty member at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, Dr. Minichino writes about the academic life from experience, and describes the academic life and people accurately (having been a graduate student in more than one department I can affirm this) and with humor.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.