A Killing Spring


Author: Gail Bowen

Published: 1996

Genre: Mystery

About A Killing Spring: The head of the School of Journalism at Joanne Kilbourn's university is found dead in a scandalous position. Meanwhile, one of Joanne's students is missing and her friend Jill is not acting like herself. The fifth book in the series.

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Review of A Killing Spring

I find Bowen's books to be effortless reading. The characters are straightforward and the stories are plausible so I can just sit back and enjoy. And I really like Joanne Kilbourn. She's not a detective or a cop, not even an amateur sleuth really. She just feels compelled to help and, sometimes, gets in over her head.

In this book, Joanne feels compelled to help a woman she really doesn't like.

In the twenty-five years I had known Julie Evanston-Gallagher, I had wished many things on her. Still, I would never have wished that her new husband would be found in a rooming house on Scarth Street, dead, with a leather hood over his head, an electric cord around his neck, and a lacy garter belt straining to pull a pair of sheer black stockings over his muscular thighs.

...from page 1

Around the same time, one of Joanne's students claims she is being sexually harrassed, and then disappears; Joanne's friend, Jill, is becoming distant and seems to be centering her life around her new boyfriend; and a racist remark causes problems for Joanne and her lover, Alex Kequahtooway.

So, there was a lot going on in this book.

The mystery was good, complicated but not too much so, and the various elements came together believably. The non-recurring characters were interesting and the writing was down-to-earth and engaging. There were plenty of things going on in Joanne's personal life, too. Some were happy, some were a bit distressing.

To be honest, I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out the who and why in Bowen's books. I like the mysteries but Joanne herself is the real reason I read them. I'm working my way through this series (in random order, of course) and enjoying every minute of it.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath, from the hardcover edition, on 24 May 2008.

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More Reviews

Andi Shechter, March 2000
“One thing I like very much about this book is that the suspense about what happened, and about many of the people involved deepens. It's not over with the death and the rest of the book is simply solving the single crime.”


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Added 24 May 2008.
Updated 23 August 2013.