Simon & Schuster
Also available as e-book
Somerset County College may not be Ivy League, but it is dedicated to its students, and proud of its new dormitory for single parents. When two of those students are poisoned in the third Shadows Mystery, American Studies professor and antique print dealer Maggie Summer sets out to uncover the truth beneath layers of academic intrigue. Who are these single parents? Why did the new wife of a college benefactor go to such lengths to establish the new dormitory? Was her husband too involved with the young single mothers? What about the others – the history professor hired because of someone – or some thing – he knew? The college president who would really do anything to protect his school’s reputation? The answers could lie in the antique prints Maggie sells and uses in class to illustrate myths in American history. And while she's torn between her own needs and those of her students, this time the most important discoveries she makes are about herself.
- Mystery Guild selection
Maine Sunday Telegram: “If you like mysteries served up with gentility rather than gore, Lea Wait has a new book for you … Wait has a durable heroine in Maggie Summer .. Summer may yet become a new Miss Marple for a new time.”
New York Times: “Maggie’s …. lectures on the racist imagery of 19th century prints are hot stuff. Wait, who runs an antique print business of her own, not only loves her field, she also makes it fresh and relevant.”
One of the dangers of writing a traditional mystery series in which the protagonist is not a professional crime fighter is in repeating the plots and characters in the same town (known to mystery writers as the dreaded “Cabot Cove Syndrome,”) or in killing off every new person who moves to that town. In creating Maggie Summer I tried to avoid that by giving Maggie two lives: a home in New Jersey where she taught at a community college, and an antique business which frequently took her on the road, buying and selling prints. Her friends also live in different places – Gussie White on Cape Cod, Will Brewer in Buffalo, and Amy Douglas, who she visited in Shadows on the Coast of Maine. In Shadows on the Ivy, the third book in the Shadows series, I took Maggie home for the first time. It is early November, 6 months after Shadows at the Fair; 3 months after Shadows on the Coast of Maine. Maggie is back in academia – but not far from her prints.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
Why does Maggie Summer call her antique print business “Shadows”?
What do you think of the idea of a college dormitory for single parents? Does it seem credible? What about the students in this dormitory? Do you think they deserve the scholarships and help Somerset College is giving them?
Maggie writes to Will, and thinks about him; she thinks about adopting a child. But she seldom asks for help, and she has fixed her home up comfortably for herself. Do you think she really wants a permanent relationship with a man or a child, or is she too independent?
What about Dorothy Whitcomb? Did you find her a credible character? If she really wanted to reclaim her daughter, why was she unable to work hard enough to get a job to support her? Why did she marry two men without telling them about her daughter? Why does she put up with her current husband’s “outside activities?”
Which of the single parents did you think was the strongest; the most likely to succeed?
If Maggie really wanted to be a parent, and Sarah had died, leaving her Aura’s guardian, do you think she should have kept custody, even though Dorothy was threatening to contest it?
What about Max, and his motivation …. Have you known people who have defined themselves by their jobs? Do you think they would go as far as Max did to protect their careers?
In what ways is Claudia a foil for Maggie? How does she help Maggie function, and add light comic interest to the book? Do Maggie’s classroom lectures relate to the murder investigation in the book? If so, in what ways?