Cozy Mystery,  Mystery,  Review

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)by James J. Cudney

Publication Date: October 15th 2018 by Creativia
Read Date: December 16th 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 270

Stars: 5/5

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

Academic Curveball was cozy murder mystery set around Braxton College, Pennsylvania,hometown of main character, Kellan. The book revolved around the Ayerwick family, Braxton college and murder of professor on campus.

Kellan was 32-year-old single father who wanted to start his have his own television show. But returning back to his hometown Braxton changed his life entirely. His sense of humor and unique voice was refreshing. He was smart, witty, and empathetic person.

There were many secondary characters, Ayerwick family, Kellan’s friends and those involved in the murder mystery. Not all characters were likable but I bet you can’t resist Nana D, Kellan’s grandmother. She brought the book to life.

This is third book by James I read and it was quite different from the first two. Book was character driven first person narrative with wonderful writing.I must admit James creates wonderful characters and each described fantastically with minute details that feel like watching them playing their role live on drama stage.

First 30% of the book was all about introduction of protagonist,his family and their quirks, picturesque narration of Braxton village, college campus and intriguing puzzle of anonymous blogger defaming Kellan’s father and murder in campus on the day of his retirement party.

I liked Kellan’s relationship with his sister and grandmother and his complex relation with his parents. I didn’t like the attitude of Sheriff and Connor, they did almost nothing to solve the case and the way they were treating Kellan for his efforts was pathetic. I have a feeling Kellan’s relation with these to was going to be even more complex in the next book.

It was interesting to find out the answers of- who was attacking Kellan’s father and why someone killed Abby Monoroe, who tampered the grades and why, how sport and politics of college was involved in murder and was it someone from the faculty or student or someone else. The mystery was hard to solve, I couldn’t guess who might be the killer among so many suspects.

The twist and turns were placed in such a way that it eliminate done suspect but at the same time added another. It kept stalling me till the last chapter. The climax and end was smooth and I liked the way the case was solved.

It was not fast pace book but certainly interesting. It was more like getting to know the characters and setting of the book. That last page twist hinting the sequel of the book was surprising.

Overall, it was interesting cozy mystery with quirky characters and a great start of series that I recommend to all cozy mystery lover.

Author: James J. Cudney

*** Note: I downloaded free e-book via Amazon Kindle. *** 


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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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