Many thanks to the author for the review copy
Levels of Deception by Susan Schreyer
A university professor is dead. Important fossils are missing. The last thing Thea Campbell wants is to be involved in another murder investigation, but when her absentee boyfriend Paul becomes the prime suspect, she has little choice in the matter. Thea is determined to clear Paul’s name, whatever it takes—whether he likes it or not. But will their relationship survive the pressure? And will Thea find the killer before he finds her? The levels of deception are far more personal than anyone could have imagined in this fast-paced murder mystery.
Levels of Deception is the second book in the Thea Campbell Mystery series, and picks up roughly where the first book, Death By A Dark Horse, left off.
After dancing around each other throughout Dark Horse, Thea and sexy palaeontologist Paul are finally together, but it’s not all romance and sunshine. Concerned for her safety, Paul is determined to put a stop to Thea’s amateur sleuthing, even if it’s his own life on the line. That he doesn’t trust her only riles up Thea’s infamous temper, meaning that their relationship is rocky even before the murder investigation begins!
Then the department chair of Paul’s university is murdered, and the very fossils he was working on are stolen. All signs point to Paul, but Thea does some digging of her own and becomes embroiled in university intrigue. Coupled with an unexpected visit from her emotionally-distant mother, and a family wedding on the horizon, and Thea has far more trouble on her hands than she can handle.
Thea is a classic cozy mystery heroine, far too stubborn for her own good and unable to resist from meddling. I must admit to having a love-hate relationship with these characters: while I enjoy the intrigue of mystery, I find Thea’s reckless risk-taking a little hard to swallow, especially considering she’s older (so presumably wiser) than me. (This was an issue I also had with the murder mystery Sounds of Murder by Patricia Rockwell.)
Overall, what makes Levels of Deception stand out from other cozy murder mysteries is that Susan Schreyer creates so much depth. There is more at play here than a murder investigation—you’ll also find yourself hungry to know what will happen to Thea and Paul’s relationship, how Thea will survive her mother’s visit, whether her sister will find a wedding dress, and much, much more.
In Levels of Deception, Schreyer has kept the interwoven plot lines, surprise twists, well-rounded characters and realistic dialogue that so entertained us in the first book of the series, but she’s made some changes as well. Thea’s horse-riding and her psychic connection with her horse is somewhat downplayed in this sequel, while there is a greater emphasis on relationship drama, meaning that Levels of Deception is likely to have wider appeal than its prequel.
In sum, if you’re looking for a cozy murder-mystery with nail-biting romantic drama, this is the book for you.