Grey Howl (Dulcie Schwartz)
by Clea Simon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Severn House Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780727883469
Date: 01 March 2014 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dulcie Schwartz, a graduate student in Gothic literature, is working helping with the professional conference being held at her college. One of the people attending is someone she's worked with on her research, and is hoping will be chosen as the new department head. However, there's several other candidates for that position attending the conference, including her current adviser who is the acting department chair.
Naturally, you know that academic infighting and politics are going to be a big part of the plot. There's also shifting alliances, partisan infighting, and that's before the first death.
Dulcie is also dealing with her boyfriend's change in schedule from nights to a daytime schedule that's more in sync with her schedule so they can spend a bit more time with each other. The problem is that he's having trouble adjusting, and feels that he's blacking out and losing time. Their cat is also acting strangely around him.
Dulcie's total involvement with her research into the only, and partial, novel of an unnamed author of Gothic literature doesn't help. Dulcie often sees connections where it is unclear to the reader that those connections exist or not. She's beginning to believe that a werewolf might be involved in what's happening, or at least she would believe that if she hadn't already been convinced of that in a previous round of weird events in her life.
This series has some very well developed characters that consistently act to type and are totally plausible if you know anything about academic politics and departmental infighting. The plots usually get resolved, but are often hindered by people refusing to share information -- usually for what seems to them good reasons, but reasons that will drive the reader to read even faster to find out what happens next.
There's plenty of tension and twists, as well as some interesting characters. And the author manages to not let the paranormal bits hinder or act as a deus ex machina.