"Bluffing Is Murder," is the latest Lauren Rousseau novel by Tace Baker. Linguistics professor Rousseau, has recently earned tenure at her college and for the first time in years, has the summer off from teaching. Her boyfriend is visiting family in Haiti and she is on her own, ready to relax, recover from the events surrounding the murder of a former student, and enjoy her recently purchased condo with Wulu, her dog.
But, her insurance agent winds up dead and she’s suspected of his murder after a very public argument. Certainly makes a case for never complaining about anything in front of a crowd, especially when tempers are high. While attempting to prove her own innocence, Rousseau uncovers a nasty embezzling plot and realizes more than her freedom may be at stake. She may be on a hit list as well.
There are multiple murders, and multiple suspects in this entertaining read that also deals with how schools are financed, missing relatives, and the lies that people tell.
Baker supplies Rousseau with intelligent companions and quirky acquaintances. The characters in "Bluffing Is Murder," (even the nasty ones) have depth and realism and inhabit the kind of world that an athletic, intelligent college professor would enjoy.
Rousseau’s wandering eye gets her into trouble when self-defense classes bring her into close contact with her tall, dark, and dangerous karate instructor. He seems to want to do more than practice lunges with her, but is that handsome face all that she needs in her life?
Her ambivalent attitude toward absentee boyfriend, Zac, is an intriguing subplot to this second book in the series, a carryover theme from the first book. Rousseau wants something more, but what? He can cook, they enjoy each other’s company, but he wants a commitment she can’t give. Does she think that being with one guy will limit her options in life? Interesting comment on modern day relationships, in that she is the indecisive one, not the man in the duo. Laura Rousseau does quite well on her own, except for the occasional assault and those bodies popping up. In writing Rousseau, Baker strikes a special balance of independence and knocking knees in the right situations. Nicely done.
Rousseau is a Quaker and we see how her faith directs her interaction even with difficult people, how it helps to keep her calm in terrifying situations. While not a religious book, it does give a revealing insight into the world of Friends.
“Bluffing is Murder” is a satisfying second installment to this literate series from Tace Baker and has lots to keep us interested in reading several more. The first book in the series, "Speaking of Murder," is reviewed here.
Tace Baker is a pseudonym for Edith Maxwell. Ms. Maxwell also writes the Local Foods Mysteries. For more information about all of her projects and Agatha nominated work, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com