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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Orientation to Murder: Darius Morefield Mystery Series, Volume 3 is a sleuth murder mystery novel written by C. Craig Coleman. When Edgar Pendleton’s body was found with his throat cut from ear to ear, John Porter, his fraternity brother and Alex Duval’s roommate, was considered the most likely suspect. Pendleton was no longer attending university, but he still capitalized on his membership in the fraternity to which John belonged to socialize and, many believed, to sell students recreational drugs. Most recently, Pendleton was stressed over the disappearance of a package he had stored in the frat house. When John came upon him beating Rocky Pendergass, a young man who was working to save up money for his college education, John instinctively reacted to protect him. When he was finished, Edgar was unconscious and lying in the street. John assisted Rocky in getting home to his room. As far as the police, the school and everyone in town was concerned, John was the last person in contact with the victim and the most likely suspect in his murder. Could Darius find the answer to who killed Edgar Pendleton? John’s life and future were on the line.
While Orientation to Murder is the third book in C. Craig Coleman’s Darius Morefield Mystery Series, the author gives enough background information for the book to be read as a standalone. That said, I’m hoping readers will begin with the first book in the series, The Rocking Crate, and work through the books in order. Coleman’s main characters, Darius, Alex and Myrtle, come of age in these books, and watching them do so is illuminating and fun. In this book, Darius and Alex are now attending university, with Myrtle, an engineering student, attending State College. John Porter, Alex’s roommate in the dorm, is a welcome addition to the trio. He’s a marvelous foil to the irrepressible Alex, and an innate and natural ally for the more cerebral Darius.
Coleman’s story blends the sleuth mystery genre with the police procedural and legal thriller genres as Darius and his friends try to find the real killer. Coleman puts a focus on the psychological impact of the accusation on John, who sees the town and school arrayed against him and all too willing to believe he would actually commit murder. The author gives the armchair sleuth quite a bit to mull over in working through the possible suspects, motives and ways to prove John’s innocence. Each of the books in this series charts the growth of Darius’ abilities to solve the most convoluted puzzles, and Orientation to Murder is no exception. I loved seeing him in action in the university setting. Coleman’s writing is smooth and assured, and his characters are finely honed and authentic. I’m pleased to see Darius Morefield coming into his own, and anticipate happily working with him to solve future mysteries in my own capacity as armchair sleuth. Orientation to Murder: Darius Morefield Mystery Series, Volume 3 is most highly recommended.