Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, January 7, 2019

REVIEW - Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans.


To be fair, cozy mystery stories are not my first choice. You know, usually, you’ll get snoopy (old and pleasant or not) ladies as amateur detectives (the rarer male versions are not far away from the description) of which presence attracts the death of those around them, and which have an easy way to find out things that the naïve or… uninspired police officers do not manage to discover themselves or who not have the same access as the ladies. Add the small villages, victims that deserve to die (if possible), clues and some red herrings and you’ll have the general image of a cozy mystery. But the first sentence of the last paragraph of the blurb made me give a chance to this book, because what could be funnier than “a village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents”? Now I can say that I don’t regret reading it!

Mr. Cudney, a good storyteller, took the above features (plus the non-explicit violence, no-sex cozy mystery “policy” etc) changed a little bit here and a little there, brought a nice, significant mutation in the main character stereotype and succeed to give us a very, very nice and original piece of cozy mystery.
“Just what we needed. An audience with a penchant for being the second coming of Miss Marple,” said Sheriff Montague.“I’d prefer to think of myself as Hercule Poirot if I need to be compared to a literary character from nearly a hundred years ago, April.”
Yes, probably Hercule will have wanted to be Kellan Ayrwick J))

Trying to find the culprit before the others is not necessarily difficult because of the fake clues or apparent relevant information, but because of the various scenarios possible. But one must ask him/herself what is the purpose of X character? If he/she cannot answer this question, then, perhaps X is the wanted criminal… Even if the author gave us indication(s) with the dropping glass, they should be enough to stimulate the right suspicions.

“Difficult” professional and personal relationships, clever detectives (at least some of them), academic jealousy and ambitions, some possible (debatable) nepotism, romantic plots, humor, but mostly the clever, quirky, sarcastic (and nosy) characters are mixed in a crucible of inspiration and nice language, resulting a delightful reading.

The ending brings another mystery that should be solved (better said explained) in the second volume, Broken Heart Attack and I already started to imagine the meanings of the title.

Like the saying, Academic Curveball is not a sprint but a marathon that allows you to enjoy the view. Still, I have one important question: while reading Academic Curveball I permanently wanted to enter the kitchen, but not once in the gym. I wonder why?



Published: October 14th, 2018

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn't expelled.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss.
About the author:
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in English literature. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries. I frequently blog and publish book reviews on everything I read at ThisIsMyTruthNow via WordPress.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball,, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

Author's Giveaway


James J. Cudney said...


I love this review. You've taken the highlights of the story, added some interesting clues, shared the positives and the negatives, and delivered a piece that really makes a reader want to pick up this book. You've got a flair for words! Thank you so much!


CCAM said...

@James J. Cudney IV

Thank you for your comment and appreciation; I'm glad you liked my "review";
I really liked AC and Kellan, his relationship and the banter between him and his Nana D. I love their "style"... maybe because is the same with ours.

I just read your Guest post about how you picked the names for AC and now I like you even more.

Good luck and once again thank you: for your work and your kind comment.