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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Death by Dissertation by Kelly Brakenhoff is the first book in the Cassandra Sato Mystery series. Cassandra has left the warmth of Hawaii for cold and snowy Nebraska to take up a position as VP of Student Affairs. As she settles into her new home and into her role, the campus is rocked by the death of one of their deaf students. Events surrounding his death just don’t add up and she’s determined to find the truth. Cassandra is drawn deeper into the case and into one twist after another which takes her inside a cancer research lab, gives her a look at what’s being served on campus, and how the two relate to a farm’s beef. She gets to know the student’s roommate and takes action to solve the mystery that could prove to be a costly career move, but Cassandra is determined to put the well-being of her students first.
The story weaves between various threads that Kelly Brakenhoff brings together for an exciting and surprising mystery that takes readers into the world of a research lab and the deaf community. Cassandra’s role as VP of Student Affairs gives her the freedom to discover information and get into every place on campus. As Cassandra digs into the student’s life, the situation quickly becomes a public relations mess and the more she digs the more her job is at risk. She’s a commendable character that’s driven and truly cares about others to the point that she’s willing to put everything she’s worked for at risk just to ensure the well-being of her students and to ensure the death of one sees justice. Death by Dissertation is a marvelous read that will make every mystery lover immediately fall for Cassandra Sato through her spunky spirit, dedication to her students, clever quips, and brilliant deduction that is brilliantly woven into the tone of the mystery.