Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.
Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.
As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.
*May Contain Spoilers*
Southern Belle meets Colorado murder mystery in Kelley Kaye's Death by Diploma, the first in her Chalkboard Outline series. Emma begins teaching at Pinewood High School just before the school is struck by a tragedy -- one of the Janitors, Melvin, has been murdered. Leslie, Emma's first friend, is convinced that Detective Carl is too much of an idiot to close the case. This problem obviously has only one solution. Leslie and Emma: Pinewood High Detectives.
Emma Lovett is a Southern girl who knows how to use her twang to get exactly what she wants. After leaving her husband, Emma decided to become a teacher and now she's living in Colorado with the rest of her life ahead of her. Emma's brave in a cautious way and readers will enjoy reading her internal mini-monologues. She has a good sense of humor, a big heart, and a love of teaching. Her sunny disposition is respectable because Emma has experienced things that could have taken away that smiling sincerity. but she doesn't allow that to happen. It seems to only increase her ability to care.
Leslie becomes Emma's partner in crime solving and though she doesn't share the main character spotlight, she's very important to the story. Leslie has been teaching for a few years and she becomes a mentor of sorts for Emma. She's also a big comic relief and quotes Shakespeare quite often. Leslie also pushes Emma outside of her comfort zone, which I think helps Emma begin to really take charge of her new life. Readers will enjoy Leslie's attitude and laugh at her strict dispositions and random acts of cursing.
It seems at odds with itself, but Death by Diploma is a rather light-hearted murder mystery. Emma and Leslie form a strong friendship, both develop love-interests, and they uncover the story of Melvin McManus, which is an interesting story by itself. There's lots of laughter in this novel as well as serious moments of sadness. It even has a bit of action and a surprise ending. Death by Diploma is a uniquely fresh murder mystery crossed with chick lit that will have readers quoting, or at least wanting to quote, Shakespeare by the final page.
Rating: 3/5 Cups