Killer Nashville Book of the Day

Bursar s Wife cvr9781785650031

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The Bursar’s Wife by E. G. Rodford
Reviewed by Clay Snellgrove

The Bursar’s Wife (Titan Books) by E.G. Rodford (pseudonym) is the first detective novel by the award-winning author Mischa Hiller. Private detective George Kocharyan is scratching out a living chasing cheating spouses and insurance fraud perpetrators around Cambridge, England, when the story begins. When the beautiful Sylvia Booker, wife of the bursar at Morley College, hires Kocharyan to follow her daughter, whom she believes has fallen in with the wrong crowd, he suddenly finds himself immersed in a decades-long blackmail ordeal, triggered by sexual assault and ending in murder and suicide.

The detective’s moral compass points mostly straight and true throughout the novel, and his need to right wrongs fuels his search for the truth as much as his commitment to his client. Kocharyan’s ailing father is eventually connected to the mess, as is a recent client, making the detective a person of interest for the police.

Readers quickly find traits in Kocharyan akin to other popular sleuths to grace bedside tables and beach chairs worldwide: Cormoran Strike, Harry Bosch, Spenser, Robicheaux, Philip Marlow. But while Kocharyan can feel all too familiar, he is an easy hero to cheer for as he bumbles about. His wife has left him for a woman. His wardrobe is frumpy. He struggles with technology. He lives alone in his parents’ house that still displays decades-old décor. He leans heavily on his assistant and her college-age son, but with their help, Kocharyan slowly puts the pieces together.

The Bursar’s Wife benefits from the author’s mastery of craft in his previous novels (as Mischa Hiller), works described as ambitious and important. The story unfolds effortlessly and is as pleasing as any popular primetime TV cop drama. The book might not be singled out by readers but will be fondly remembered someday when it stands on the bookshelf next to the tenth Kocharyan mystery.

Clay Snellgrove is the author of The Ball Player. He’s a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. A former professional baseball player, Clay holds an MFA in creative writing from Converse College.

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