“Simon Said,” the first in Sarah Shaber’s Professor Simon Shaw Mystery series, is set in 1996 Raleigh, North Carolina. Simon Shaw is a history professor at an area college, and needing a distraction from his personal life, takes on a cold case investigation. The body of a woman, possibly someone who has been missing for 70 years, is discovered during an archeological dig on the campus. And, it is a body with a bullet hole in her skull.
Shaw is called in to help the police with possible clues as to her identity, but because of his previous study of the famous local family, he knows immediately who she is. Heiress Anne Bloodworth was thought to have run away in 1926, but Shaw isn’t so sure that the old rumors fit the facts. His determined search for the truth behind the Bloodworth girl’s death uncovers details about the disappearance that were kept hidden at the time by those who knew her. Those revelations have far-reaching consequences affecting the present in startling ways.
Shaber has written Shaw as a flawed, but tenderhearted and gifted man, stunned by his wife’s departure from his life, and unconcerned about rivalry within his own department. Shaw’s position at the college, his continuous presence in the limelight, his academic success (a Pulitzer Prize) have all combined to make him a target of gossip and threats. He dismisses the internal college politics with alarming results and we wonder if he will stay alive long enough to solve the absorbing Bloodworth mystery.
There are fascinating characters in “Simon Said,” engaging dialogue, a possible new love interest, a good friend who has Simon’s back, and outstanding research into the 1926 era in Raleigh and the historic neighborhood surrounding Cameron Village. Against this wonderful backdrop, the beautifully developed, multi-layered plot is a treat.
In 1996, Sarah Shaber won a Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Award for “Simon Said” (in manuscript form) as the Best First Traditional Mystery. It’s been in print ever since and this year is its 20th anniversary. There are five titles in the series.
For more information about Sarah Shaber and her other series, please visit her Amazon author page.