Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First Chapter Review: Simon Said (The Professor Simon Shaw Murder Mysteries) By Sarah R. Shaber

I've always been a sucker for a good mystery. The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, and the Capital Crimes novels of Margaret Truman filled my childhood through my mid-twenties. Over the past few years, it's been the work of Marilyn Meredith/F.M. Meredith, Lisa Gardner, James Hayman and Heather Haven that has fed my love of the genre. Today I'm sharing one of the free mysteries I picked up this week.

TITLE: Simon Said

AUTHOR: Sarah R. Shaber

BLURB: Eyebrows are raised as yellow crime-scene tape drapes across the once-distinguished Colonial Bloodworth House. For the mansion, nestled cozily amidst the tranquil academia of Kenan College, may have once been the scene of a brutal murder.

The decayed body was found when archaeologist David Morgan conducted a dig beneath the original three rooms of the 1785 house-- he was only hoping to unearth some Colonial-era artifacts.

Professor Simon Shaw, Kenan College's youngest full-time professor, knows more about the house than anyone-- he even wrote a book about the historic building-- so naturally, Morgan enlists his professional friend for a little detective work. What Morgan has found, it seems, are the remains of the estate's heiress-- an unsolved missing persons case since 1926. As Simon digs deeper into this decades-old murder, he finds that someone still very much alive wants to put a permanent stop to his investigating.

COVER:  Beautiful. With the story set in Raleigh, North Carolina, this is the perfect cover. The above cover is new for the Kindle edition. While the cover (see right)  for the original paperback, which was released in 1997, is lovely, the added bits of red in the landscape make a big difference. The location of the stairs and the large window have been changed from the original cover, and we see the house from a different angle. I also like how the archaeological dig site is prominent on the new cover.

FIRST CHAPTER:  This has to be one of the shortest first chapters I've ever read. Professor Simon Shaw is in his office bracing himself against an intense North Carolina day.

His secretary, Judy Smith, enters and tells him he's about to get a visitor. A policeman arrives to request he go over to Bloodworth House because Dr. Morgan, an archaeologist and the Professor's good friend, discovered a woman's body and it appears to have died at least fifty years ago. Based upon Dr. Morgan's examination, it looks likely that the woman did not meet a natural death.

KEEP READING:  Definitely! As I mentioned, this is a very short chapter; but what Shaber manages to do is introduce our main character and then get him involved up to his eyeballs in a mystery. Dr. Morgan is his best friend. You can assume in Chapter Two Professor Shaw is walking over to Bloodworth House to see how he can help.

What the author also manages to do is quickly give us the setting. While we don't know what season it is, within the first paragraph, the Professor is working on a way to deal with the intense North Carolina day streaming in through his "old-fashioned Venetian blinds." She also draws a sharp picture of Professor Shaw's appearance and his office through the eyes of the policeman. The reader immediately gets a feel for who Shaw is.

I really want to see how this one turns out.

File Size: 313 KB
Publisher: Sarah R. Shaber (March 9, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
SRP:  $2.99

I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.


Nicole weaver said...


This book sounds very exciting. I am hooked on Mary Higgins Clark's books. I have read all of her books. Thanks for sharing the 1st chapter.

Nicole Weaver
trilingual Children's Author

April said...

I grabbed this one as well and can't wait to read it!! It sounds like such a great read and I agree - love the cover!

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Cheryl! I wish I had more time to read mysteries just for fun (outside of reviewing). I'm reading Hemingway Cutthroat now, but for review. It's a series of mysteries with Hemingway as the protagonist.

I grew up with Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew, so I love mysteries!

Anonymous said...

SIMON SAID sounds like an interesting murder mystery. Thanks for sharing your review of the first chapter.

I also enjoyed reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries when I was younger.