June 10th, 2013


The Writing Class, by Jincy Willett

A murder mystery set in a creative writing class — one of the best books I've read this year!

The Writing Class

Thomas Dunne Books, 2008, 326 pages

Amy Gallup is gifted, perhaps too gifted for her own good. Published at only twenty-two, she peaked early and found critical but not commercial success. Now her former life is gone, along with her writing career and beloved husband. A reclusive widow, her sole companion a dour, flatulent basset hound who barely tolerates her, her daily mantra Kill Me Now, she is a loner afraid to be alone. Her only bright spot each week is the writing class that she teaches at the university extension.

This semester's class is full of the usual suspects: the doctor who wants to be the next Robin Cook, the overly enthusiastic repeat student, the slacker, the unassuming student with the hidden talent, the prankster, the know-it-all... Amy's seen them all before. But something is very different about this class---and the clues begin with a scary phone call in the middle of the night and obscene threats instead of peer evaluations on student writing assignments. Amy soon realizes that one of her students is a very sick puppy, and when a member of the class is murdered, everyone becomes a suspect. As she dissects each student's writing for clues, Amy must enlist the help of everyone in her class, including the murderer, to find the killer among them.

Suspenseful, extremely witty, brilliantly written, unexpectedly hilarious, and a joy from start to finish, The Writing Class is a one-of-a-kind novel that rivals Jincy Willett's previous masterpieces

For anyone who's ever been in a writing workshop and fantasized about killing that obnoxious guy who keeps going on and on about his Lovecraftian steampunk romance...

Verdict: I loved this book! I didn't really expect to, but the notion is fresh and funny, it's entirely self-contained (I do not foresee a series of cozies starring a mystery-solving creative writing teacher), and best of all, it's written with the skilled prose, wit, and multi-layered, surprising characters of a gifted literary writer. The Writing Class is high quality lit-fic disguised as a high-concept genre murder mystery.

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