“The Poetry of Murder” by new novelist Bernadette Steele is set against the backdrop of the International House at the University of Chicago. Our main character is Geneva Anderson, an African-American poet whose Aunt Victoria is the director at the I-House. Geneva is a resident there as well, on a poetry fellowship.
Upon completing some new poetry, Geneva goes to Victoria’s office to get her opinion on her work. When she steps into her aunt’s office, she is completely unprepared for what she sees – her aunt’s body covered in blood. She was close to her aunt and the shock overwhelms her. But when she learns that she is the heir to her aunt’s fortune of millions, she’s shocked even further. How did her aunt amass so much money, working at the I-House?
As the police launch into their investigation, they arrest Geneva for murder. This devastates her even further. She would never have done such a thing to her aunt. Yet the police will not be convinced, and Geneva decides it’s up to her to prove her own innocence by catching the real culprit. She’s aided by her best friend, Zain Valdez, and she hopes beyond hope that the two of them can bring the killer to justice.
As Geneva works to unravel the mystery, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Lies have been told, secrets kept, and revenge plotted, and not even the intellectual residents at I-House are immune to acting out in their human need for recognition. She learns that she has a sister she never knew she had, and she learns things about her aunt that make her wonder if she ever really knew the woman at all.
This cozy mystery has twists and turns throughout and the climax was unpredictable. “The Poetry of Murder” is the first in a series about amateur detective Geneva Anderson, named the series “Dark Oak Mysteries.”
(This book was published in 2008 by Oak Tree Press.)